Six Easy Theses – Tools for Cosmological Discussion

sacred_scienceEnjoy as I have the recent posts concerning God and the New Atheists (great band name btw), and there is nothing as comical to me as reading atheists argue for the futility of engaging in these arguments, I do think that the ground needs a little clarifying so that these discussions, that I believe have value in the platonic sense, can gain some traction given a few tools to help the language.

The dichotomy between theism and atheism is perhaps a step of generality too far, and leads one to engage in those kinds of circular arguments that both sides find frustrating.  So I propose the following terms, in order to help us identify our beliefs, or non-beliefs, in a way that fosters informed discussion.

1. There are at least 2 types of atheists. One I will call the Micro-Atheist, that type of person who approaches the cosmos without the need to ascribe consciousness to things he/she has no evidence to support.  The Micro-Atheist is the quietest type since he/she admits that his/her non-belief is simply grounded in not having any first hand experience of such evidence.  The second type I will call the Macro-Atheist.  This latter type approaches the cosmos with scientific rationality, and supposes that such scientific principles are universal, and given the inability of theists to prove their claims, these atheists propose that there is no divine consciousness directly influencing human affairs.  And this is a reasonable assertion, however, it is still an assertion.

2. There are then, at least, 2 types of theists.  One I will call the Micro-theist, who might have personal experiences of the type we call spiritual, and/or is not willing to dismiss other accounts of miraculous and/or spiritual encounters.  These types remain open to the possibility that some verification of the divine might be possible, but they choose to believe that some conscious force does engage in relation to human beings.  The second type is the Macro-theist.  This latter type takes it for granted that a divine consciousness is at work in our universe and further proposes that this divine consciousness has a universal message, and chooses to see differences of interpretation as a result of human weakness.  Unlike the Micro-theist, that can align him/herself with reason, given the openness of their views, the Macro-theist is explicitly opposed to the supremacy of reason and sees faith as a superior to science.

3.  And of course, we have the agnostics.  Much like the Micro-theist, there is the Micro-agnostic.  He/she is the friend of both camps, open to whatever arises.  The Micro-agnostic is a relativist in the extreme, trusting not even his/her own existence.  The Micro-agnostic would be considered a mystic if only he/she would stay still.  The Macro-agnostic is he/she who uses reason to level the debate, and sees in this abstinence from judgment, the highest expression of scientific enlightenment.  The Macro-agnostic takes a position against judgment without proof.  The Macro-agnostic, in this way, is an idealist, and does not always fit well within the pragmatism of contemporary science.

My beliefs:  Personally, I am a Micro-theist with a Macro-Agnostic bent.  I consider the reports from countless people, both intelligent and simple, of outside consciousness as a valid set of scientific phenomena, without adequate explanation.  There are theories of course, one being that people have used their imaginations to create an ‘other’ to calm the anxiety caused by uncertainty.  But this theory demands proof, as do all theories, and I feel the debate is an important one to have.  Some incredibly intelligent people have been religious, and so I do not accept that the spiritual personality is one grounded in a kind of weakness.  In fact, I suspect that some people are simply more sensitive to the vastness of existence and the ways in which it might manifest itself.

These debates are often heated precisely because the participants are unaware of these subtle differences.  When the Macro-atheists are engaged in an argument about the dangers of religion with the Macro-theists, it is tempting for the Micro-atheists and Micro-theists to step in, since we feel, and we both have reason to feel, that we are being misrepresented.  The upscaling effect is the result of universalizing something that cannot yet be proven to be universal.  Our experiences on this planet are a set of sense data that we have yet to fully grasp.  Science is the best tool for moving forward in our search for testable theories.  Yet, spirituality does seem to have a relationship with individual thriving.  These two things are not so divergent in my mind.

But I do confess a kind of pleasure in baiting atheists…so, see if you like these new terms, and see if they help you distinguish your views a bit more efficiently, and add to the joys of platonic tangential approach to the forms out of which our universe unfolds.  here are a few videos i find somehow relevant to these matters.

, , , , , , ,

  • Destructurex

    I don’t like them. I find each categorization to hold language that is demeaning to each category. I am agnostic, and would call myself devout. to assert that “is a relativist in the extreme, trusting not even his/her own existence” or ” they choose to believe that some conscious force does engage in relation to human beings” is contradictory and espousing an irrationality. as well, to describe the Macro-agnostic as a position against judgment without proof is simplistic and as an idealist that does not always fit well within the pragmatism of contemporary science does not see the scientific community clearly. I could go further with others, but will leave that to each category themselves. any way you slice it, you can have those that take either a liberal or authoritarian view of belief, but those words are steeped in a history of negative connotation. look up right-wing authoritarianism, as an actual mental state, and you’ll see the controversy with using terms that denote such dichotomies. right and left, small and large, militant and pacifist, these terms will draw away from debate, just like off-hand generalizations of peoples world views.

  • Destructurex

    I don’t like them. I find each categorization to hold language that is demeaning to each category. I am agnostic, and would call myself devout. to assert that “is a relativist in the extreme, trusting not even his/her own existence” or ” they choose to believe that some conscious force does engage in relation to human beings” is contradictory and espousing an irrationality. as well, to describe the Macro-agnostic as a position against judgment without proof is simplistic and as an idealist that does not always fit well within the pragmatism of contemporary science does not see the scientific community clearly. I could go further with others, but will leave that to each category themselves. any way you slice it, you can have those that take either a liberal or authoritarian view of belief, but those words are steeped in a history of negative connotation. look up right-wing authoritarianism, as an actual mental state, and you’ll see the controversy with using terms that denote such dichotomies. right and left, small and large, militant and pacifist, these terms will draw away from debate, just like off-hand generalizations of peoples world views.

  • Jdale

    Yopu forgot micro-unicornist and macro-unicornist – or are they subsets of the micro/macro-theists ?

    Proposing lots of silly names for things doesn’t give you a leg to stand on I’m afraid.

    • Manny Furious

      Try reading some Wittgenstein before you try to compare “spaghetti monsters in the sky” or “unicorns” to any real metaphysical question. Otherwise, to anyone with half a brain you come off as an ignorant, smug douche.

      If you’re not into metaphysics, that’s cool, a lot of materialist-minded people aren’t, and maybe they’re right. However, then, don’t show up to any discussion on metaphysical topics and bring some weak, borderline ad-hominem/strawman arguments to the table and expect to be taken seriously by anyone who actually knows something about “silly names”.

  • Jdale

    Yopu forgot micro-unicornist and macro-unicornist – or are they subsets of the micro/macro-theists ?

    Proposing lots of silly names for things doesn’t give you a leg to stand on I’m afraid.

  • Orgonebox

    In your proposal of six types of theists, you actually create nine. Each definition supposes a progenitor atheist, agnostic, and theist, whose originary beliefs remain undefined. I would tend to take a simple definition for each category, and regard your divisions as a matter of scale. Unfortunately, the micro/macro divide seems more to distinguish between proselyte and the introvert, without approaching the heart of the definition of any sort of cosmological perspective.

  • Orgonebox

    In your proposal of six types of theists, you actually create nine. Each definition supposes a progenitor atheist, agnostic, and theist, whose originary beliefs remain undefined. I would tend to take a simple definition for each category, and regard your divisions as a matter of scale. Unfortunately, the micro/macro divide seems more to distinguish between proselyte and the introvert, without approaching the heart of the definition of any sort of cosmological perspective.

  • Andrew

    What about dystheism and ignosticism?

  • Andrew

    What about dystheism and ignosticism?

  • Hmm

    Pitiful. Absolutely pitiful. Why the constant, obsessive need from theists to try and compartmentalise atheist into various subsets? Does it make us seem less scary?

    Forgetting this whole micro/macro nonsense, the simplest explanation – the explanation which has served us perfectly well until this point – is that atheism is simply the lack of belief in a God. This is because there is no evidence for one existing. Whether the atheist chooses to accept that the universe is far more mysterious than it may seem (as many do from a scientific perspective) there is still no need to invoke tacky, poorly written middle-Eastern fairy tales.

    ———————————-
    “and sees in this abstinence from judgment, the highest expression of scientific enlightenment”
    ———————————–

    Scientific enlightenment is NOT refraining from judgement; scientific enlightenment is about testing what works and what doesn’t. That is science defined – to know. We would never know, nor learn, anything by not judging. Don’t be so ridiculous.

    ———————————–
    “I consider the reports from countless people, both intelligent and simple, of outside consciousness as a valid set of scientific phenomena, without adequate explanation.”
    ———————————–

    Whether people are intelligent or not is irrelevant; intelligent people are known to believe stupid things. As for outside consciousness, I assume you mean the same outside consciousness that schizophrenics hear, experience and feel? You do realise that science has demonstrated religious experience to be a result of a malfunctioning temporal/ and or parietal lobes? Furthermore, there are many syndromes – such as Charles Bonnet syndrome, in which the most mind boggling hallucinations are produced due to visual degenerations.

    In other words, the mind plays tricks on us. Frequently. What would be the more reasoned explanation – that God alone has singled you out to talk to, or your brain has inadvertantly tricked you, as it often does?

    —————————————
    “There are theories of course, one being that people have used their imaginations to create an ‘other’ to calm the anxiety caused by uncertainty. But this theory demands proof, as do all theories,”
    —————————————–

    People are scared of death (psychology, common sense & evolutionary biology). People are often pushed into theism from a young age when they are unable to think critically (social conditioning). The world is a terrifying place and humans look for meaning/or patterns when none exist (psychology). The brain is not perfect, and all manner of visions and experiences can be induced by such imperfections, which people believe are somehow divine or holy (neurology). Religion is socially persuasive (sociology).

    These are some of the reasons why people believe in ‘the other’. A simple google search will bring up plenty of evidence for each one. So, yes, there is plenty of proof.

    ——————————————–
    “I suspect that some people are simply more sensitive to the vastness of existence”
    ——————————————–

    Yes, so do I. They are scientists, writers, poets, artists. They are people who adore nature, and find beauty in everything. Again, there is no need for theists like yourself to ‘claim them’ as being exclusive to your sect.

    ———————————————–
    and add to the joys of platonic tangential approach to the forms out of which our universe unfolds.
    ———————————————-

    You will not win an argument by using unclear language. No one ever has, and it gives others the impression that you are trying to make up for logical deficencies in your argument.

    I’m genuinely surprised Disinfo posted this.

    • Teller

      “This is because there is no evidence for one (God) existing.”

      Give me absolute evidence that one DOES NOT exist. This is as silly as trying to prove that nothingness exists. The space between atoms… We know it’s there, but there is no way to prove evidence for ‘space that is empty,’ because there is no evidence, only observation that ‘stuff’ passes through ‘empty space,’ thus forming atomic matter. Tell me what is conscious thought made of? How can it be formed of material, when conscious thought is what drives the formation of material? For example, the mind grows with the more stimuli that enter it, information is stored; BUT it is a thought process that examines, a thought process that cannot operate purely on an autonomous functionality. Can a computer choose to view a specific data bank for no reason? A driver is needed to operate that kind of machinery. I believe that driver is beyond material capacity. Intelligence is a tool, existence cannot be dictated.

      • Hmm

        “Give me absolute evidence that one DOES NOT exist. ”
        ————————————————

        I said there is NO EVIDENCE for God existing. I cannot give evidence for the nonexistence for something there is no evidence for! It would be ludicrous of me to assume that because you cannot disprove my imaginary friend, there is some chance that it exists! Human beings are blessed with REASON; or are you totally opposed to this?

        Throughout the years, you and your ilk have cited many things as alleged proof of God – from life on earth, to the universe, to ‘visions’. Every argument has been succintly dismissed.

        ————————————————–
        “there is no way to prove evidence for ‘space that is empty,’ because there is no evidence, only observation that ‘stuff’ passes through ‘empty space”
        ————————————————–

        I hope you aren’t serious with this line of reasoning. I will just assume you are being facetious.

        ————————————————-
        “Tell me what is conscious thought made of? How can it be formed of material, when conscious thought is what drives the formation of material?
        ————————————————-

        It isn’t ”made” of anything – it is a chemical firing between neurons and synapses.

        —————————————————-
        “For example, the mind grows with the more stimuli that enter it, information is stored; BUT it is a thought process that examines, a thought process that cannot operate purely on an autonomous functionality. ”
        —————————————————–

        You are, I assume, referring to enlarged hippocampal regions in those who commit large pieces of information to memory. What you have inadvertantly done is checkmated your own argument; because if consciousness was non-dependant of matter, then there would be no logical reason why the brain would change size. The fact that the brain DOES alter subject to cognitive functioning demonstrates perfectly that the base of consciousness is physical. Why does it alter? Because of increased cerebral activity in those particular regions.

        —————————————————-
        “Can a computer choose to view a specific data bank for no reason? A driver is needed to operate that kind of machinery. ”
        —————————————————–

        Ridiculous argument. A computer is NOT a living biological organism.

      • Andrew

        Conscious thought is what drives the formation of material? How do you mean?

    • Tuna Ghost

      Forgetting this whole micro/macro nonsense, the simplest explanation – the explanation which has served us perfectly well until this point – is that atheism is simply the lack of belief in a God.

      Agnostics also lack a belief in god. The definition you’ve offered hasn’t served us well, which is why people have used words that further distinguish belief structures, to answer your first question.

      As for outside consciousness, I assume you mean the same outside consciousness that schizophrenics hear, experience and feel?

      Labeling all religious experiences as a debilitating mental disorder is a bit glib, not to mention potentially insulting.

      You do realise that science has demonstrated religious experience to be a result of a malfunctioning temporal/ and or parietal lobes?

      This is a pretty big exaggeration. At any rate, a religiously inclined person could just easily answer that their lobes are working just fine, and that it is your lobes that have a deficiency.

      Furthermore, there are many syndromes – such as Charles Bonnet syndrome, in which the most mind boggling hallucinations are produced due to visual degenerations.

      In other words, the mind plays tricks on us. Frequently. What would be the more reasoned explanation – that God alone has singled you out to talk to, or your brain has inadvertantly tricked you, as it often does?

      This is more in the area of the mind/body dilemma, a subject in which I’m very fascinated, but there is not much space to delve into it here. Simply put, where are you drawing the line between “your brain” and “you”? I mean, that’s without even delving into the implications of altered states of consciousness. Also, a religiously inclined person could (and do, in fact) claim that their god(s) have dominion over brains, so who’s to say whether or not one is being given “visions” of divine origins?

      These are some of the reasons why people believe in ‘the other’. A simple google search will bring up plenty of evidence for each one. So, yes, there is plenty of proof.

      If only it were that easy! Unfortunately, none of the things you’ve offered are actually “proof”. They only prove that there are reasons for people to believe in something, reasons that are based on something other than its actual existence, which is probably isn’t news to anybody.

      There’s a lot I was going to write, but I think its best to remind you that science does not, as is commonly believed, tell us how the universe is, only how it appears. This is admitted by physicists. The study of how things actually are, the study of being qua being, is called metaphysics. It is a frustrating field and it goes in and out of fashion in regular intervals throughout western history.

      When formulating ideas about what a being with intelligence, structure, and power several orders higher than our own, it serves one well to try and imagine what a creature would appear like to us. If you saw it, could you even begin to distinguish it from the backround? Can an ant discern you from the rest of its environment? Could you even begin to conceptualize being or structure on that level? How exactly are we supposed to conceive of an intelligence several orders higher than our own, anyway?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4K3KM67XITZTXUE45K42KS4OEE brian

      Since everyone has touched on the other sections of your argument let me address an important one I think they missed. Your statement “Scientific enlightenment is NOT refraining from judgement; scientific enlightenment is about testing what works and what doesn’t.” is about as wrong of an explanation as it gets. Early on in the annals of astronomy, a cosmology was invented that explained all of the motions of the planets the sun, the moon and the stars as seen from the earth. It was perfect in every aspect…..It could predict any normally observable celestial event both far into the future and far into the past…and it was incredibly accurate in doing so. It worked beautifully. The only problem was it was entirely wrong. It was designed with the assumption that the Earth was the center of the solar system rather than the Sun. Now if Science Judged that knowledge as correct then they would never have been open to an alternative view. (As it was Religion was the main obstacle…..as it Judged the earth being the center of the Solar System as being true and correct)
      Science progresses NOT because it ‘Judges’ things but because it is always open to change. A true Skeptic is one who is skeptical not only of new Ideas, but also of old ones. A truly Open Minded individual is open to a skeptical viewpoint. And to be blunt….a good Scientist makes NO Judgements. Rather he or she will only make an assumption based on the presented evidence. The Idea of ‘abstaining from judgment as being the highest expression of scientific enlightenment’ is very true indeed! I’m surprised you can not see that…..

  • Hmm

    Pitiful. Absolutely pitiful. Why the constant, obsessive need from theists to try and compartmentalise atheist into various subsets? Does it make us seem less scary?

    Forgetting this whole micro/macro nonsense, the simplest explanation – the explanation which has served us perfectly well until this point – is that atheism is simply the lack of belief in a God. This is because there is no evidence for one existing. Whether the atheist chooses to accept that the universe is far more mysterious than it may seem (as many do from a scientific perspective) there is still no need to invoke tacky, poorly written middle-Eastern fairy tales.

    ———————————-
    “and sees in this abstinence from judgment, the highest expression of scientific enlightenment”
    ———————————–

    Scientific enlightenment is NOT refraining from judgement; scientific enlightenment is about testing what works and what doesn’t. That is science defined – to know. We would never know, nor learn, anything by not judging. Don’t be so ridiculous.

    ———————————–
    “I consider the reports from countless people, both intelligent and simple, of outside consciousness as a valid set of scientific phenomena, without adequate explanation.”
    ———————————–

    Whether people are intelligent or not is irrelevant; intelligent people are known to believe stupid things. As for outside consciousness, I assume you mean the same outside consciousness that schizophrenics hear, experience and feel? You do realise that science has demonstrated religious experience to be a result of a malfunctioning temporal/ and or parietal lobes? Furthermore, there are many syndromes – such as Charles Bonnet syndrome, in which the most mind boggling hallucinations are produced due to visual degenerations.

    In other words, the mind plays tricks on us. Frequently. What would be the more reasoned explanation – that God alone has singled you out to talk to, or your brain has inadvertantly tricked you, as it often does?

    —————————————
    “There are theories of course, one being that people have used their imaginations to create an ‘other’ to calm the anxiety caused by uncertainty. But this theory demands proof, as do all theories,”
    —————————————–

    People are scared of death (psychology, common sense & evolutionary biology). People are often pushed into theism from a young age when they are unable to think critically (social conditioning). The world is a terrifying place and humans look for meaning/or patterns when none exist (psychology). The brain is not perfect, and all manner of visions and experiences can be induced by such imperfections, which people believe are somehow divine or holy (neurology). Religion is socially persuasive (sociology).

    These are some of the reasons why people believe in ‘the other’. A simple google search will bring up plenty of evidence for each one. So, yes, there is plenty of proof.

    ——————————————–
    “I suspect that some people are simply more sensitive to the vastness of existence”
    ——————————————–

    Yes, so do I. They are scientists, writers, poets, artists. They are people who adore nature, and find beauty in everything. Again, there is no need for theists like yourself to ‘claim them’ as being exclusive to your sect.

    ———————————————–
    and add to the joys of platonic tangential approach to the forms out of which our universe unfolds.
    ———————————————-

    You will not win an argument by using unclear language. No one ever has, and it gives others the impression that you are trying to make up for logical deficencies in your argument.

    I’m genuinely surprised Disinfo posted this.

  • ken vallario

    evidence does not equal proof
    and the presence of millions of people who report personal experiences with non-human consciousness is a phenomenon
    many people explain this phenomenon in such a way that it is a psychological coping mechanism
    and like many theories, this is a very reasonable one…is that clear? i think it is a reasonable assertion
    but it is not proof.
    i believe rationalists ought to be held to their own standards, and that was what this article was meant to show
    anytime we argue from a Macro perspective, we ought to be held to standards of proof.
    i will concede that athiests have a more reasonable approach
    but given that these discussions so often become emotional, i believe there are deeper cultural values at play
    and this article was meant to provoke a new version of this old debate
    finally, if a possible explanation exists to explain the phenomenon we are discussing, and it is scientifically feasible, then we have grounds for remaining open to theistic interpretations of history.

    • Manny Furious

      While I don’t really agree with your article, I do admire its intent. And with that said, the problem with this “debate” in our culture is that the extremists on both sides will never allow an actual dialogue of ideas to take place.

      Look at the vitriol this mostly harmless article has conjured thus far. There is nothing in your article that deserves the kind of ridicule it’s getting–the kind of irrational ridicule one would expect from a bunch of Jesus Freaks, not the “rational”, “cool-headed”, “logical”, “detached” “atheists.

      I’ve seen it too often. Atheism is just as much of a religion as any other religion. Hardcore atheists, just like zealous Christians/Muslims/etc. can never have a relevant and amicable discussion on the topic. Their “faith” in science is just as binding as another’s faith in “God”. For evidence, look no further than when someone like Dawkins is going on and on and on and on and on and on about the evils Religion has committed and, yet, fails to mention that religion didn’t create the Atom Bomb or mustard gas or fighter jets or napalm or automatic weapons. Or notice how these people fail to see that if it weren’t religion. human beings would find something else altogether to maim and kill each other over.

      • Hmm

        “Look at the vitriol this mostly harmless article has conjured thus far.”
        ———————————————————————————-

        Rampant stupidity has that affect on me, as it should anyone who cares passionately.

        I actually enjoy debates with intelligent theists (I would have to because most of my friends are theists), but fortunately none of them are anti-science. They simply feel that there might be a chance God exists – which is fine. They would never demand proof of the nonexistence of God, because they know that because they cannot give evidence to begin with, they are on the back foot.

        ——————————————————-
        “‘ve seen it too often. Atheism is just as much of a religion as any other religion. ”
        ——————————————————–

        I expected Disinfo visitors to be better than this. AA religion is an organisation based on worship of the supernatural.Atheism is lack of a belief in God.

        Atheism is a belief system. If you can’t grasp that, this argument is finished.

        ——————————————————-
        For evidence, look no further than when someone like Dawkins is going on and on and on and on and on and on about the evils Religion has committed and, yet, fails to mention that religion didn’t create the Atom Bomb or mustard gas or fighter jets or napalm or automatic weapons.
        ——————————————————

        LOL @ you thinking those weapons were made in the name of atheism.

        Without science you wouldn’t even be typing this on a screen, nor would you have any of the medicines that I’m sure have helped keep you alive.

        Claims like this prove the first point I made.

        • Manny Furious

          “I expected Disinfo visitors to be better than this. AA religion is an organisation based on worship of the supernatural.Atheism is lack of a belief in God.

          Atheism is a belief system. If you can’t grasp that, this argument is finished.”

          Religion is just a “belief system” as well. If you can’t grap that, then this discussion hasn’t even begun.

          Sure, Atheism differs from Religion in the details, no one can deny that. But there is “Orthodox/fundamental” atheism just as there is “orthodox/fundamental” religion. My issue with atheists has nothing to do with there propositions. Maybe atheists are right. I don’t know. My problem lies in how extreme atheists, seemingly like yourself, are just as shackled to your “belief system” as any religious extremist.

        • Manny Furious

          “LOL @ you thinking those weapons were made in the name of atheism.

          Without science you wouldn’t even be typing this on a screen, nor would you have any of the medicines that I’m sure have helped keep you alive.

          Claims like this prove the first point I made.”

          You’re a fucking idiot. Where did you learn how to read? When did I ever say those weapons were built in the name of atheism???

          And when did I ever say science was good for nothing? Quit putting words in my mouth (or on my screen) that I never implied. All I’m saying is science is not the pathway to “peace and tranquility and enlightenment” that so many athesists make it out to be. I think there are good sides to science… such as driving in cars, flying in planes, typing on computers, having ice to go with my water, etc. There are also good things with religion that atheists seem to conveniently forge when they’re on their high horses preaching the fire and brimstone gospel of anti-religion.

          What’s most funny about your responses is that any half-wit can see that I’m a “moderate” on this subject and you’re attacking me like I’m a fucking evangelical. Well, fuck you and IP address you rode in on.

    • Hmm

      and the presence of millions of people who report personal experiences with non-human consciousness is a phenomenon
      many people explain this phenomenon in such a way that it is a psychological coping mechanism
      and like many theories, this is a very reasonable one…is that clear?
      ——————————————————-

      If you read my first reply, I cited a great number of reasons why people are theists – reasons randing from social conditioning to neurology. A coping mechanism is indeed one reason, but it is not the only one.

      Point is; human beings are not infallible. They lie, they are easily fooled, they are scared. The brain is a wonderful, infinitely brilliant organ but it is flawed. Eyewitness testimony is not reliable. People’s memories are EXTREMELY malleable (read the work of Elizabeth Loftus).

      Zen masters spend their entire lives meditating. They have wonderful experiences, but do they believe in God? Most (if not all) Zen practitioners are atheists. They gain insights and feelings but this can be explained with science and with psychological theories of metacognition and peak experiences. There is no need to invoked the supernatural.

      Why do you put so much belief in anecdotes? Think of the sheer amount of people who claim to have seen Elvis living, many of whom have claimed to talk to him. Most I believe are lying, but I am sure there are a number who are genuinely mistaken. The eyes and the mind can play tricks, as I previously discussed.

      I remember once hearing a story from my uncle who claimed he and his friends picked up a hitchiker on a deserted stretch of road. She climbed in the car and didn’t say much to anyone. They carried on driving for a short while and when one of them turned to talk to her, she had disappeared. In other words, she was a ghost. As a child I was uncritical and believed the story – there was no way my uncle would lie to me. He was totally convinced that this happened, and it was proof for him that there were such things as ghosts.

      A few years later I happened to meet one a couple of his friends. The subject turned to ghosts, and my uncle said, ”do you remember what happened with that hitchiker?” His two friends looked at each other. “But that never actually happened,” one of them said. “Don’t you remember, we made the story up to scare your sister?” My uncle remained adamant that it had happened, so much so that they had to telephone the other two friends involved. Their answer was the same – that it was a story they sat in the pub and dreamt up.”

      My uncle was desperately embarassed and still disbelieving. He had truly believed the encounter had happened. This is actually quite a common situation. As I have mentioned, the brain is imperfect.

      —————————————————
      i believe rationalists ought to be held to their own standards
      —————————————————

      Once, long ago, it was believed that God was responsible for fashioning man from a piece of dirt and mud.

      This was disproved.

      It was once believed that the earth was made in seven days.

      This was disproved.

      It was once believed that demons and evil spirits caused mental illness and malady.

      This was disproved. And so on and so on. What is there left to disprove? We cannot disprove God exists because there is no evidence for one in the first place!

      ——————————————————
      given that these discussions so often become emotional, i believe there are deeper cultural values at play
      ——————————————————

      Why assume that the heated nature of the arguments has anything to do with cultural values? I am very happy for people to believe in God, but when theists/deists start pushing their anti-science agenda, this is when I step in.

      • ken vallario

        i don’t believe my article is anti-science…in fact, i belief it is a defense of the skepticism that science demands.
        if there is a reasonable doubt as to the certainty of our belief we ought to abstain from stating our case as fact…unless of course, we are engaged in an argument, in which case we ought to make a logical defense of our positions…there are an enormous number of personal and dismissive moments in your comments, and it does not reflect your position very well.
        as far as science goes….there is something called emergence theory, that many disciplines are now looking to to explain consciousness, and computational complexity. it is assumed by many scientists that given enough connectivity that consciousness will emerge.
        it is also theorized by many scientists, that on a sub-atomic level the universe operates as an exchange of data or information…some scientists even propose that the universe is flat and that the 3 dimensions are an illusion of our physics. but that is an aside…the point i am making is that it is unknown how connected these information exchanges are, and if they are connected, it would make sense given the emergence theory, that the system could very well exhibit consciousness. given that these theories are respected as possible explanations of sub-atomic behavior and that one could rationally connect them, it is then feasible that consciousness could emerge from a dynamic and interconnected field of information exchanges.
        now, i don’t know if i believe this is the exact explanation…
        but, imagine then, an electrical/biological system for interpreting sense data (the brain) evolving within this field of information exchange….then imagine that within this field as the brain became conscious it very early developed the notion of ‘self’ or ‘identity’ or ‘creator’…it is then possible to extrapolate some correlation between the universe and the brain itself, given that all neural behavior is electrical, that it takes place on a sub-atomic plane.
        and, given the adaptability of these ‘fixations’, it is also defensible from a darwinist perspective to argue that ‘spiritual ideations’ reflect some reality in the environment of the creature…
        my reasons for putting this forward is merely to reiterate the point that we cannot, as of yet, declare that no outside forms of consciousness do, or have, affected human history, or that the universe is not conscious…
        this elimination of the divine is not an explicit deduction from the practice of science…all that science demands is that we present a theory to explain a phenomena, and then test that theory…
        the theories to explain theism are many, and many choose to believe the theories that claim theism as a coping mechanism, but they are theories…and one could just as easily accuse atheists of attempting the same elimination of uncertainty…

      • Debrazgalaxy

        How is it that we evolved form a tiny cell? We could not survive with out an entire system for each of our functions ~ For example~ One cell at a time..we could not have the appetite for food..the ability to get it…the hand to grab it..the mouth to open ..the teeth to chew..throat to swallow…stomach to digest..and well you see the direction I am going ~
        All of these things had to be in place at the same time~ Our adrenal systems, skin..eyes etc…are all the same story~ dysfunctional with out the whole system in place at the same time~

  • ken vallario

    evidence does not equal proof
    and the presence of millions of people who report personal experiences with non-human consciousness is a phenomenon
    many people explain this phenomenon in such a way that it is a psychological coping mechanism
    and like many theories, this is a very reasonable one…is that clear? i think it is a reasonable assertion
    but it is not proof.
    i believe rationalists ought to be held to their own standards, and that was what this article was meant to show
    anytime we argue from a Macro perspective, we ought to be held to standards of proof.
    i will concede that athiests have a more reasonable approach
    but given that these discussions so often become emotional, i believe there are deeper cultural values at play
    and this article was meant to provoke a new version of this old debate
    finally, if a possible explanation exists to explain the phenomenon we are discussing, and it is scientifically feasible, then we have grounds for remaining open to theistic interpretations of history.

  • Jesus

    This guy is a Macro-douch with a Micro-lame-o bend.

  • Jesus

    This guy is a Macro-douch with a Micro-lame-o bend.

  • Marklar_Prime

    As God’s chosen atheist our lord assures me that he does not in fact exist and never did. I’m not really sure if I should believe him though.

  • http://twitter.com/Marklar_Prime Marklar Kronkite

    As God’s chosen atheist our lord assures me that he does not in fact exist and never did. I’m not really sure if I should believe him though.

  • Teller

    “This is because there is no evidence for one (God) existing.”

    Give me absolute evidence that one DOES NOT exist. This is as silly as trying to prove that nothingness exists. The space between atoms… We know it’s there, but there is no way to prove evidence for ‘space that is empty,’ because there is no evidence, only observation that ‘stuff’ passes through ‘empty space,’ thus forming atomic matter. Tell me what is conscious thought made of? How can it be formed of material, when conscious thought is what drives the formation of material? For example, the mind grows with the more stimuli that enter it, information is stored; BUT it is a thought process that examines, a thought process that cannot operate purely on an autonomous functionality. Can a computer choose to view a specific data bank for no reason? A driver is needed to operate that kind of machinery. I believe that driver is beyond material capacity. Intelligence is a tool, existence cannot be dictated.

  • Alturn

    Beliefs are important as much as hypotheses are. They allow you to examine life through different windows. Ultimately, though, awareness is what matters.

    “In the domain of creation, we find consciousness. In the domain of the Supreme Being there is omnipresence, omnipotence, and, quite simply, awareness. Gurus, saints and rishis know that all elements in creation can be controlled, but the domain of the Supreme Being can never be controlled.”

    ““Supreme Being is beyond mind, spirit and body. It is awareness which makes the Self experience the Supreme Being and the Becoming of the Lord.
    “Awareness cannot be individualized. Awareness embraces the Supreme Being and the Becoming of the Supreme Being, and in awareness the Self experiences equilibrium. The discipline of equilibrium is generated and sustained by detachment. “What happens to one who ardently believes in particular ideologies when he dies? Can anyone answer this? On the deathbed, everything is left behind.
    Again, at that moment, the discipline of detachment works on mind, spirit and body. So detachment is a very significant factor in life.”
    Maitreya adds: “Invite politicians, philosophers, and scientists to answer the question: how significant is detachment in life? And if it is, why are you conditioning people with ideologies, thus creating nothing
    but confusion?””
    - World Teacher Maitreya through an associate as reported to the media by Share International

  • Alturn

    Beliefs are important as much as hypotheses are. They allow you to examine life through different windows. Ultimately, though, awareness is what matters.

    “In the domain of creation, we find consciousness. In the domain of the Supreme Being there is omnipresence, omnipotence, and, quite simply, awareness. Gurus, saints and rishis know that all elements in creation can be controlled, but the domain of the Supreme Being can never be controlled.”

    ““Supreme Being is beyond mind, spirit and body. It is awareness which makes the Self experience the Supreme Being and the Becoming of the Lord.
    “Awareness cannot be individualized. Awareness embraces the Supreme Being and the Becoming of the Supreme Being, and in awareness the Self experiences equilibrium. The discipline of equilibrium is generated and sustained by detachment. “What happens to one who ardently believes in particular ideologies when he dies? Can anyone answer this? On the deathbed, everything is left behind.
    Again, at that moment, the discipline of detachment works on mind, spirit and body. So detachment is a very significant factor in life.”
    Maitreya adds: “Invite politicians, philosophers, and scientists to answer the question: how significant is detachment in life? And if it is, why are you conditioning people with ideologies, thus creating nothing
    but confusion?””
    - World Teacher Maitreya through an associate as reported to the media by Share International

  • Manny Furious

    I find it funny how easily Atheists get all up in arms over stupid shit (“Theists” do this too, of course, but Atheists are supposed to be the “rational”, “grown up” ones of this relationship…). I bet very few of them actually watched either video clip….

    I thought this article, while not being anywhere near accurrate, is better than most of the stuff that is being put out on the “discussion”. I think the second one labels something, one loses something of its reality, and therefore I don’t think that the further labeling of atheists/theists into subgroups is all that productive. I would say I’m an agnostic, in that I don’t believe in the a literal interpretation of the Bible or any other mythologial basis of any religion. However, I have had some personal EXPERIENCES (as opposed to thoughts or ideas, etc.) that are not easy to explain away with “science”. I also believe that any study of both quantum physics and Einstein’s theories of relativity contain things that just cannot be explained by science in any real way… at least at this point. Therefore, I like the views of someone like a Joseph Campbell or Alan Watts takes on the whole subject.

    The bottom line is this, whether you’re a “theist” or “atheist”: Somewhere along the line there has to be an “uncaused first cause.” At this point, science has no clue what this uncaused first cause is (unless, of course, one accepts that the Big Bang is such an event. However, not even science itself seems to accept this proposition, as evidenced by string/m/and holographic theories of the universe, among others), and religion doesn’t seem to either, so maybe the answer lies somewhere in between.

    • J Ackley

      You speak wisely, Mr. Furious. The things you speak of are the reasons I hold no beliefs. I am a scientist, but I have had my fair share of “spiritual” experiences. In both endeavors a level of humility and skepticism is required. Otherwise you will almost certainly form a belief that is almost certainly incorrect or incomplete. As Terence McKenna once said, you should deal only with the raw information. Or something along those lines.

      • Debrazgalaxy

        Many people that are not ready to give up their hurts caused to them by other people say to themselves many of the following phrases: “There is NO God” or
        “Why did YOU do this God?”..”You must not like me God”..”You hurt ME God”.
        Your hearts were NOT YET prepared to accept that all will get hurt in life.
        Where as Christians, even the “baby” ones…KNOW that God grows US through the tough times in order to show His love and mercy on not ONLY our lives but so that WE may HAVE compassion for THOSE THAT WRONG us.
        To stay in the place of “poor me, they hurt ME” is opposite of His desire for your heart~ It is His will that NONE suffer alone.
        We are equal beings with CHOICE. Choice to retaliate and GROW the hate in the world with a negative projection .

        Choice to USE what GOD brings us through~ to COUNSEL and help the world…. choice to step away from the “poor me” which festers a heart.
        Interesting also… when a person disallows that there is a God..they are siding with the very group that caused THEM harm in the first place~

        Also..have you ever thought about HOWE MUCH FAITH it takes to believe as you do?
        ….
        I chose your post as a springboard…due to the last name~ I am kinda’ fond of it (c:

        • Andrew

          God sounds like a father that stands by while his son rapes his daughter then tells her he didn’t intervene so that they would both depend on him more and grow closer as a family.

          • Debrazgalaxy

            uhm no~
            I hope that you are not antagonized by someone who follows Christ and His rules of conduct~ God IS able to accomplish more than we can compprehend..not through misdeed~ PEOPLE choose to do misdeeds~

            The scriptures do tell of you and other non believers.

            Look at this verses from John…

            John 3:11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
            ~~~~

            Plus LOOK at this promise God made for YOU~
            I KNOW you have heard John 3:16 (c:

            John 3:16″For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

            ~~~
            THEN… the chapter goes on to tell you that HE is NOT a bully or a behavioral (c:

            John 3:17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
            ~~~~
            See THE choice belongs to all of us~

            John 3:18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
            ~~~~

            Sooo… I wrote this in HOPE that GOD is seeking YOU…the one I am posting to..but BEING that I am NOT GOD…. I don’t know if He wants YOU to KNOW Him …of IF these verses will touch anothers heart… BUT I guarantee that Gods word NEVER returns void… (Also in the Bible) so THE person He is trying to reach WILL have the seeds of faith planted… OR one of the siblings in this thread will SEE that we don’t have to beat people up in Gods name (c:
            Just deliver His messages~

            Hope that this is MEANT for YOU tho~ Don’t let misinformation or immature behavior by ‘baby Christians’ sway your thinking for yourself Andrew~
            Deb~

          • Andrew

            > Don’t let misinformation or immature behavior by ‘baby Christians’ sway your thinking for yourself Andrew~

            I try not to, which is why we disagree on the value and validity of the Bible.

          • Debrazgalaxy

            As in all topics Andrew~ there are misbehaviors in some who participate~
            Think of going to a dentist.. (OW..I KNOW..bad choice, but it wil make my point easier to make)
            If your dentist does something wrong and you lose a tooth~
            You would be angry and speak out against dentists…but ultimately you would end up finding another dentist…because we know we need them… that ONE dentist does NOT mean all dentists are bad.

            Or a co~ worker that slacks off…that does NOT mean you quit your job..

            A child that misbehaves…. YOU don’t kick them out and send your other kids packing too…

            Yet when the subject is GOD~
            People draw a line in the sand and determine to drop Him due to instances of a few behaviorals~

            Salvation is a much more serious subjecst than mere teeth or employment…
            A few more things to ponder ~I could just write :
            ” People did NOT write the Bible…God made it RIGHT”… but that would not help to clear anything~

            Once we ask God .. “Are YOU for real”.. the answer is swift.
            With the Bible and the question…we LEARN first hand the truths He is trying to provide.
            We experience the very things that others who have accepted have learned for THEMselves.
            God is NOT something we learn from a book like math or science..or OPRAHS self serve book list choices…
            Those books just tell us what SOMEONE else learned firsthand… or things that others figured out FOR US~ and we only ‘know’ something because we memorize anothers hard work.
            God provides FISRT person experience~

            For your further reading pleasure (c:
            If God was man made…wouldn’t we have invented one that ALLOWED serving self ? One that allows mean,angry and violent people to go unchecked?

            What stops some seeking people from experiencing the ‘feeling’ of Gods existance ..is disbelief that creeps up ..because it seems easier than what feels LIKE surrendering. Like once we FULLY believe..we are gonna’ have to be all nice and helpful and TELL people about God… SO many of us resist~
            …I have ALWAYS believed and felt His presence..even when I denied it or ran from it.
            Then I went to admitting He was real and defending that with : “YES I AM A Christian..HOW DARE YOU , you nasty &#*(#^! tell me I am NOT one…”
            Then I had a “WEIRD” experience on my way to a hospital to see my mom..( I had had many of the weird (READ :GOD moments) in my life..but tried to think they were something else…cuz’ WHO would believe ME?!?…)
            THEN I eneded up praying boldly out loud with out thought to what I was saying or caring WHO was hearing or seeing me … ONLY caring that I COULD BRING a peace and salvation to my mom.
            ~~. Even tho’ my mom died that day, I experienced a series of VERY HELPFUL small and LARGE miracles that came from NO HANDS of humans. . I ALSO experienced THE WORSE OPPOSITION ATTACK
            E V E R 3 days later the night before my moms funeral.. a physical attack that was WAY beyond what I could comprehend at the moment…SO I had to pretend it did not happen ..so I could get the whole family through the funeral~(brothers and their spouses)
            I KNOW beyond a shadow of a DOUBT .. who inspired that assault.
            BUT God saw me through it and ALL the surrounding events~

            … once we MAKE a bold move to believe~ there IS opposition… but TRUSTING God makes THE REST VERY easily~ Showing God our trust…builds the relationship~ and the rewards are far to many to list in this lil’ box.

            Don’t think of others actions and misdeeds as excuses to NOT know His truth~
            Don’t THINK of God as a crutch.
            Think instead ,of this:

            We each have loved ones and close friends…
            DO you not get relief from having a person or persons to share things with, people you can confide in, or that can lead you to a solution ?

            Do you see THEM as a crutch?

            Nope~
            They are people we love and are grateful for~
            It’s called a relationship (c:

            Christianity is NOT a religion ~IT is a relationship ~ A relationship with God and a walk ever closer to His Son~

            We might start out as GRABBING on for our OWN peace of mind…but through development of the relationship..we are moved to share with others …in hopes of their choosing His way~

            If He was NOT the Truth the Light and The way…who would subject themselves to verbal and physical abuse for trying to BRING others to KNOW God?

          • Andrew

            I’ve heard all that before, because I was raised Christian. My experiences with other Christians and what I thought was “God,” and my studies of the Bible and theology proved to me they were of human origin. I’m sure you will invalidate my experiences as a lack of understanding on my part, but don’t expect me to then value yours above my own.

          • Debrazgalaxy

            would never try and talk you out of what YOU lived through new friend ~
            I grew up going hit and miss to a Catholic church.when my family quit going..I walked to church a few times. BUT even as a child I always knew they were leaving out way to much..and celebrating the WRONG things. I witnessed the misbehavior of many adults..
            As an adult .. I know that people ON His path are at all different levels of understanding and growth.
            Some just go to church as a source of social acceptance..some just for appearance sake to their spouses..some for us CHURCH ladies cooking <c; *wink* BUT what ever gets us there.. is one step closer to MOVING closer to Gods purpose on our lives.
            I go to a Pentecostal church and serve with the gifts I am given,.in order to help grow the church (PEOPLE are the church)… PLUS I am a REALLY good cook..so they need me (c:
            I am not happy in a church of EXACT order and rituals..but SOME people thrive and grow in THOSE type of churchs~ As in ALL walks or hobbies…there are different levels of comitment and understanding…
            Perhaps wrong choices by people or the wrong type of church turned you away?
            That makes PEOPLE the problem, and NOT the word of God.

            tiny comparison… LOOK AT ALLLLL the different varieties of PIZZA ~ I once ATE a piece with PINEAPPLE…. what KNID of mistake WAS THAT! WHAT was the COOK thinking~ man..I don't even have WORDS for what THAT was like…. BUT PIZZA still remains my favorite food~

          • Andrew

            Well, in addition to my personal experiences I studied the Bible for several years from both Christian and non-Christian viewpoints. I firmly and strongly believe it is not the word of God. (And I don’t consider myself an atheist.) I don’t agree with all criticisms leveled against it, but there are passages that are clearly contradictory (unless one twists the meanings of words) and hypocritical/amoral/morally relative. The Bible makes perfect sense to me when viewed as an archaic pastiche, and has value as such, but it does not make sense as wholly factual and divine truth. And I believe it’s better to believe in things that make sense than things that don’t. If my personal experiences, my research, or my reason indicated Jesus was God, I might still believe, but all three indicate he was not.

          • Debrazgalaxy

            What seems like contridictions in in any subject exists~ When it comes to the bible tho’.. what appars to be discrepancies are due to a a few things~

            1)Not KNOWING whom the author is speaking to~ Was it the Pharisees? Jews? Samaritans? etc..

            2) Not allowing for the different circumastances being addressed.

            3) Not allowing for the fact that Jesus came to abolish some of the old laws, and to do away with past wrongs of people..

            4) Not cross referencing passages .

            5)Not having an OPEN heart to learn what IS being taught by the passages.

            It is NOT for everyone to KNOW all of the bible’s exact meaning on EvErYtHiNg~ when you are led by the Holy Spirit, you are guided through The Word and allow for GRACE and mercy within your life~ so as to grow to full potential~ in use for His kingdom… <— that part scares people …they do not know that it is just a natural progression of things..like anything that we love or desire to do.
            Not all are called to evangelism…some have gifts in other areas~ But there is a place in The Body Of Christ for any and all that desire the relationship~

          • Andrew

            I disagree.

          • Debrazgalaxy

            I do know for sure that Gods word never returns void~ It may not be you that these posts were meant for~ I can’t know for sure… But God does~
            Peace to you Andrew.

            Deb~

    • that1guy

      the second one was a little hard to sit through without face-palming

  • Manny Furious

    I find it funny how easily Atheists get all up in arms over stupid shit (“Theists” do this too, of course, but Atheists are supposed to be the “rational”, “grown up” ones of this relationship…). I bet very few of them actually watched either video clip….

    I thought this article, while not being anywhere near accurrate, is better than most of the stuff that is being put out on the “discussion”. I think the second one labels something, one loses something of its reality, and therefore I don’t think that the further labeling of atheists/theists into subgroups is all that productive. I would say I’m an agnostic, in that I don’t believe in the a literal interpretation of the Bible or any other mythologial basis of any religion. However, I have had some personal EXPERIENCES (as opposed to thoughts or ideas, etc.) that are not easy to explain away with “science”. I also believe that any study of both quantum physics and Einstein’s theories of relativity contain things that just cannot be explained by science in any real way… at least at this point. Therefore, I like the views of someone like a Joseph Campbell or Alan Watts takes on the whole subject.

    The bottom line is this, whether you’re a “theist” or “atheist”: Somewhere along the line there has to be an “uncaused first cause.” At this point, science has no clue what this uncaused first cause is (unless, of course, one accepts that the Big Bang is such an event. However, not even science itself seems to accept this proposition, as evidenced by string/m/and holographic theories of the universe, among others), and religion doesn’t seem to either, so maybe the answer lies somewhere in between.

  • Manny Furious

    Try reading some Wittgenstein before you try to compare “spaghetti monsters in the sky” or “unicorns” to any real metaphysical question. Otherwise, to anyone with half a brain you come off as an ignorant, smug douche.

    If you’re not into metaphysics, that’s cool, a lot of materialist-minded people aren’t, and maybe they’re right. However, then, don’t show up to any discussion on metaphysical topics and bring some weak, borderline ad-hominem/strawman arguments to the table and expect to be taken seriously by anyone who actually knows something about “silly names”.

  • Manny Furious

    While I don’t really agree with your article, I do admire its intent. And with that said, the problem with this “debate” in our culture is that the extremists on both sides will never allow an actual dialogue of ideas to take place.

    Look at the vitriol this mostly harmless article has conjured thus far. There is nothing in your article that deserves the kind of ridicule it’s getting–the kind of irrational ridicule one would expect from a bunch of Jesus Freaks, not the “rational”, “cool-headed”, “logical”, “detached” “atheists.

    I’ve seen it too often. Atheism is just as much of a religion as any other religion. Hardcore atheists, just like zealous Christians/Muslims/etc. can never have a relevant and amicable discussion on the topic. Their “faith” in science is just as binding as another’s faith in “God”. For evidence, look no further than when someone like Dawkins is going on and on and on and on and on and on about the evils Religion has committed and, yet, fails to mention that religion didn’t create the Atom Bomb or mustard gas or fighter jets or napalm or automatic weapons. Or notice how these people fail to see that if it weren’t religion. human beings would find something else altogether to maim and kill each other over.

  • Hmm

    “Give me absolute evidence that one DOES NOT exist. ”
    ————————————————

    I said there is NO EVIDENCE for God existing. I cannot give evidence for the nonexistence for something there is no evidence for! It would be ludicrous of me to assume that because you cannot disprove my imaginary friend, there is some chance that it exists! Human beings are blessed with REASON; or are you totally opposed to this?

    Throughout the years, you and your ilk have cited many things as alleged proof of God – from life on earth, to the universe, to ‘visions’. Every argument has been succintly dismissed.

    ————————————————–
    “there is no way to prove evidence for ‘space that is empty,’ because there is no evidence, only observation that ‘stuff’ passes through ‘empty space”
    ————————————————–

    I hope you aren’t serious with this line of reasoning. I will just assume you are being facetious.

    ————————————————-
    “Tell me what is conscious thought made of? How can it be formed of material, when conscious thought is what drives the formation of material?
    ————————————————-

    It isn’t ”made” of anything – it is a chemical firing between neurons and synapses.

    —————————————————-
    “For example, the mind grows with the more stimuli that enter it, information is stored; BUT it is a thought process that examines, a thought process that cannot operate purely on an autonomous functionality. ”
    —————————————————–

    You are, I assume, referring to enlarged hippocampal regions in those who commit large pieces of information to memory. What you have inadvertantly done is checkmated your own argument; because if consciousness was non-dependant of matter, then there would be no logical reason why the brain would change size. The fact that the brain DOES alter subject to cognitive functioning demonstrates perfectly that the base of consciousness is physical. Why does it alter? Because of increased cerebral activity in those particular regions.

    —————————————————-
    “Can a computer choose to view a specific data bank for no reason? A driver is needed to operate that kind of machinery. ”
    —————————————————–

    Ridiculous argument. A computer is NOT a living biological organism.

  • Hmm

    and the presence of millions of people who report personal experiences with non-human consciousness is a phenomenon
    many people explain this phenomenon in such a way that it is a psychological coping mechanism
    and like many theories, this is a very reasonable one…is that clear?
    ——————————————————-

    If you read my first reply, I cited a great number of reasons why people are theists – reasons randing from social conditioning to neurology. A coping mechanism is indeed one reason, but it is not the only one.

    Point is; human beings are not infallible. They lie, they are easily fooled, they are scared. The brain is a wonderful, infinitely brilliant organ but it is flawed. Eyewitness testimony is not reliable. People’s memories are EXTREMELY malleable (read the work of Elizabeth Loftus).

    Zen masters spend their entire lives meditating. They have wonderful experiences, but do they believe in God? Most (if not all) Zen practitioners are atheists. They gain insights and feelings but this can be explained with science and with psychological theories of metacognition and peak experiences. There is no need to invoked the supernatural.

    Why do you put so much belief in anecdotes? Think of the sheer amount of people who claim to have seen Elvis living, many of whom have claimed to talk to him. Most I believe are lying, but I am sure there are a number who are genuinely mistaken. The eyes and the mind can play tricks, as I previously discussed.

    I remember once hearing a story from my uncle who claimed he and his friends picked up a hitchiker on a deserted stretch of road. She climbed in the car and didn’t say much to anyone. They carried on driving for a short while and when one of them turned to talk to her, she had disappeared. In other words, she was a ghost. As a child I was uncritical and believed the story – there was no way my uncle would lie to me. He was totally convinced that this happened, and it was proof for him that there were such things as ghosts.

    A few years later I happened to meet one a couple of his friends. The subject turned to ghosts, and my uncle said, ”do you remember what happened with that hitchiker?” His two friends looked at each other. “But that never actually happened,” one of them said. “Don’t you remember, we made the story up to scare your sister?” My uncle remained adamant that it had happened, so much so that they had to telephone the other two friends involved. Their answer was the same – that it was a story they sat in the pub and dreamt up.”

    My uncle was desperately embarassed and still disbelieving. He had truly believed the encounter had happened. This is actually quite a common situation. As I have mentioned, the brain is imperfect.

    —————————————————
    i believe rationalists ought to be held to their own standards
    —————————————————

    Once, long ago, it was believed that God was responsible for fashioning man from a piece of dirt and mud.

    This was disproved.

    It was once believed that the earth was made in seven days.

    This was disproved.

    It was once believed that demons and evil spirits caused mental illness and malady.

    This was disproved. And so on and so on. What is there left to disprove? We cannot disprove God exists because there is no evidence for one in the first place!

    ——————————————————
    given that these discussions so often become emotional, i believe there are deeper cultural values at play
    ——————————————————

    Why assume that the heated nature of the arguments has anything to do with cultural values? I am very happy for people to believe in God, but when theists/deists start pushing their anti-science agenda, this is when I step in.

  • Hmm

    and the presence of millions of people who report personal experiences with non-human consciousness is a phenomenon
    many people explain this phenomenon in such a way that it is a psychological coping mechanism
    and like many theories, this is a very reasonable one…is that clear?
    ——————————————————-

    If you read my first reply, I cited a great number of reasons why people are theists – reasons randing from social conditioning to neurology. A coping mechanism is indeed one reason, but it is not the only one.

    Point is; human beings are not infallible. They lie, they are easily fooled, they are scared. The brain is a wonderful, infinitely brilliant organ but it is flawed. Eyewitness testimony is not reliable. People’s memories are EXTREMELY malleable (read the work of Elizabeth Loftus).

    Zen masters spend their entire lives meditating. They have wonderful experiences, but do they believe in God? Most (if not all) Zen practitioners are atheists. They gain insights and feelings but this can be explained with science and with psychological theories of metacognition and peak experiences. There is no need to invoked the supernatural.

    Why do you put so much belief in anecdotes? Think of the sheer amount of people who claim to have seen Elvis living, many of whom have claimed to talk to him. Most I believe are lying, but I am sure there are a number who are genuinely mistaken. The eyes and the mind can play tricks, as I previously discussed.

    I remember once hearing a story from my uncle who claimed he and his friends picked up a hitchiker on a deserted stretch of road. She climbed in the car and didn’t say much to anyone. They carried on driving for a short while and when one of them turned to talk to her, she had disappeared. In other words, she was a ghost. As a child I was uncritical and believed the story – there was no way my uncle would lie to me. He was totally convinced that this happened, and it was proof for him that there were such things as ghosts.

    A few years later I happened to meet one a couple of his friends. The subject turned to ghosts, and my uncle said, ”do you remember what happened with that hitchiker?” His two friends looked at each other. “But that never actually happened,” one of them said. “Don’t you remember, we made the story up to scare your sister?” My uncle remained adamant that it had happened, so much so that they had to telephone the other two friends involved. Their answer was the same – that it was a story they sat in the pub and dreamt up.”

    My uncle was desperately embarassed and still disbelieving. He had truly believed the encounter had happened. This is actually quite a common situation. As I have mentioned, the brain is imperfect.

    —————————————————
    i believe rationalists ought to be held to their own standards
    —————————————————

    Once, long ago, it was believed that God was responsible for fashioning man from a piece of dirt and mud.

    This was disproved.

    It was once believed that the earth was made in seven days.

    This was disproved.

    It was once believed that demons and evil spirits caused mental illness and malady.

    This was disproved. And so on and so on. What is there left to disprove? We cannot disprove God exists because there is no evidence for one in the first place!

    ——————————————————
    given that these discussions so often become emotional, i believe there are deeper cultural values at play
    ——————————————————

    Why assume that the heated nature of the arguments has anything to do with cultural values? I am very happy for people to believe in God, but when theists/deists start pushing their anti-science agenda, this is when I step in.

  • Hmm

    and the presence of millions of people who report personal experiences with non-human consciousness is a phenomenon
    many people explain this phenomenon in such a way that it is a psychological coping mechanism
    and like many theories, this is a very reasonable one…is that clear?
    ——————————————————-

    If you read my first reply, I cited a great number of reasons why people are theists – reasons randing from social conditioning to neurology. A coping mechanism is indeed one reason, but it is not the only one.

    Point is; human beings are not infallible. They lie, they are easily fooled, they are scared. The brain is a wonderful, infinitely brilliant organ but it is flawed. Eyewitness testimony is not reliable. People’s memories are EXTREMELY malleable (read the work of Elizabeth Loftus).

    Zen masters spend their entire lives meditating. They have wonderful experiences, but do they believe in God? Most (if not all) Zen practitioners are atheists. They gain insights and feelings but this can be explained with science and with psychological theories of metacognition and peak experiences. There is no need to invoked the supernatural.

    Why do you put so much belief in anecdotes? Think of the sheer amount of people who claim to have seen Elvis living, many of whom have claimed to talk to him. Most I believe are lying, but I am sure there are a number who are genuinely mistaken. The eyes and the mind can play tricks, as I previously discussed.

    I remember once hearing a story from my uncle who claimed he and his friends picked up a hitchiker on a deserted stretch of road. She climbed in the car and didn’t say much to anyone. They carried on driving for a short while and when one of them turned to talk to her, she had disappeared. In other words, she was a ghost. As a child I was uncritical and believed the story – there was no way my uncle would lie to me. He was totally convinced that this happened, and it was proof for him that there were such things as ghosts.

    A few years later I happened to meet one a couple of his friends. The subject turned to ghosts, and my uncle said, ”do you remember what happened with that hitchiker?” His two friends looked at each other. “But that never actually happened,” one of them said. “Don’t you remember, we made the story up to scare your sister?” My uncle remained adamant that it had happened, so much so that they had to telephone the other two friends involved. Their answer was the same – that it was a story they sat in the pub and dreamt up.”

    My uncle was desperately embarassed and still disbelieving. He had truly believed the encounter had happened. This is actually quite a common situation. As I have mentioned, the brain is imperfect.

    —————————————————
    i believe rationalists ought to be held to their own standards
    —————————————————

    Once, long ago, it was believed that God was responsible for fashioning man from a piece of dirt and mud.

    This was disproved.

    It was once believed that the earth was made in seven days.

    This was disproved.

    It was once believed that demons and evil spirits caused mental illness and malady.

    This was disproved. And so on and so on. What is there left to disprove? We cannot disprove God exists because there is no evidence for one in the first place!

    ——————————————————
    given that these discussions so often become emotional, i believe there are deeper cultural values at play
    ——————————————————

    Why assume that the heated nature of the arguments has anything to do with cultural values? I am very happy for people to believe in God, but when theists/deists start pushing their anti-science agenda, this is when I step in.

  • Hmm

    “Look at the vitriol this mostly harmless article has conjured thus far.”
    ———————————————————————————-

    Rampant stupidity has that affect on me, as it should anyone who cares passionately.

    I actually enjoy debates with intelligent theists (I would have to because most of my friends are theists), but fortunately none of them are anti-science. They simply feel that there might be a chance God exists – which is fine. They would never demand proof of the nonexistence of God, because they know that because they cannot give evidence to begin with, they are on the back foot.

    ——————————————————-
    “‘ve seen it too often. Atheism is just as much of a religion as any other religion. ”
    ——————————————————–

    I expected Disinfo visitors to be better than this. AA religion is an organisation based on worship of the supernatural.Atheism is lack of a belief in God.

    Atheism is a belief system. If you can’t grasp that, this argument is finished.

    ——————————————————-
    For evidence, look no further than when someone like Dawkins is going on and on and on and on and on and on about the evils Religion has committed and, yet, fails to mention that religion didn’t create the Atom Bomb or mustard gas or fighter jets or napalm or automatic weapons.
    ——————————————————

    LOL @ you thinking those weapons were made in the name of atheism.

    Without science you wouldn’t even be typing this on a screen, nor would you have any of the medicines that I’m sure have helped keep you alive.

    Claims like this prove the first point I made.

  • J Ackley

    You speak wisely, Mr. Furious. The things you speak of are the reasons I hold no beliefs. I am a scientist, but I have had my fair share of “spiritual” experiences. In both endeavors a level of humility and skepticism is required. Otherwise you will almost certainly form a belief that is almost certainly incorrect or incomplete. As Terence McKenna once said, you should deal only with the raw information. Or something along those lines.

  • ken vallario

    i don’t believe my article is anti-science…in fact, i belief it is a defense of the skepticism that science demands.
    if there is a reasonable doubt as to the certainty of our belief we ought to abstain from stating our case as fact…unless of course, we are engaged in an argument, in which case we ought to make a logical defense of our positions…there are an enormous number of personal and dismissive moments in your comments, and it does not reflect your position very well.
    as far as science goes….there is something called emergence theory, that many disciplines are now looking to to explain consciousness, and computational complexity. it is assumed by many scientists that given enough connectivity that consciousness will emerge.
    it is also theorized by many scientists, that on a sub-atomic level the universe operates as an exchange of data or information…some scientists even propose that the universe is flat and that the 3 dimensions are an illusion of our physics. but that is an aside…the point i am making is that it is unknown how connected these information exchanges are, and if they are connected, it would make sense given the emergence theory, that the system could very well exhibit consciousness. given that these theories are respected as possible explanations of sub-atomic behavior and that one could rationally connect them, it is then feasible that consciousness could emerge from a dynamic and interconnected field of information exchanges.
    now, i don’t know if i believe this is the exact explanation…
    but, imagine then, an electrical/biological system for interpreting sense data (the brain) evolving within this field of information exchange….then imagine that within this field as the brain became conscious it very early developed the notion of ‘self’ or ‘identity’ or ‘creator’…it is then possible to extrapolate some correlation between the universe and the brain itself, given that all neural behavior is electrical, that it takes place on a sub-atomic plane.
    and, given the adaptability of these ‘fixations’, it is also defensible from a darwinist perspective to argue that ‘spiritual ideations’ reflect some reality in the environment of the creature…
    my reasons for putting this forward is merely to reiterate the point that we cannot, as of yet, declare that no outside forms of consciousness do, or have, affected human history, or that the universe is not conscious…
    this elimination of the divine is not an explicit deduction from the practice of science…all that science demands is that we present a theory to explain a phenomena, and then test that theory…
    the theories to explain theism are many, and many choose to believe the theories that claim theism as a coping mechanism, but they are theories…and one could just as easily accuse atheists of attempting the same elimination of uncertainty…

  • Andrew

    Conscious thought is what drives the formation of material? How do you mean?

  • that1guy

    Why cordon off any sort of experience outside of the material universe as intrinsically theist? Just because it is out of the realm of science does not put it within the realm of gods and goddesses. There are a multitude of non-material experiences and viewpoints that do not incorporate belief in deities in any traditional way.

    Furthermore, a person does not need to grant the existence of supernatural entities to believe in the supernatural.For example, I don’t believe in deities as real beings, but emptiness doctrine and a Buddhist understanding of karma both make sense to me. And contemplation of the two have consoled me in times of grief and lead to incredible experiences, that, like Dr. Brown Beardo’s experience in the second video, can perhaps be explained away by scientific materialism, but not to my personal satisfaction. Experiences can be self-affirming, and supernatural, and still not be experiences of God.

    A different example: I had a teacher who grew up during the cultural revolution in China. As a product of this, and in spite of being exiled for political viewpoints after he was grown, he still largely adheres to a secular, Marxist, and anti-religious world view. But he claims he’s been cut with psychic qi-gong knives and had cancerous lesions healed with fig leaves. Totally doesn’t believe in god though. Try putting him on the chart.

    Really, I’m surprised that someone who has argued in the past that the universe could be inherently irrational, this is a taxonomy that is really concerned with creating solid boundaries around different types of worldviews.

    If you really want to know where someone stands on something, just ask, and then really listen to what they say. You’ll end up with a much better idea of what that person thinks, and a much richer vocabulary for discussing issues of faith and belief than what you can come up with in a vacuum.

    That said, if the semantic system outlined above helps you bring a little order to your life, by all means implement it. But you should do so with the knowledge that you’re sacrificing accuracy for clarity and certainty, which is hardly the right foot to put forward on a search for truth.

    • ken vallario

      i was listening to Dr. Cornell West on TV tonight…he was responding to a very similar critique of notions of ‘left’ and ‘right’…and he made the assertion that ‘all language is provisional’, and that labels (taxonomies) are necessities within complicated dialogue, as long as they are utilized to clarify an argument and arise from an intention to create mutual understanding. the labels i’ve used explicitly refer to a few recent posts, where the theme, or context was set, and there was no implication of these ideas being intrinsic. just as it would be easy to critique your comment because of your use of the word Marxist, i will not, because i trust i have read the spirit of your statement, as indicated by the labels used…good language relies on a set of redundancies, hopefully, that account for its tendency toward misinterpretation, and your arguments were easy to understand even though you used many labels.

      rather, i am attempting actually to widen the notions of these words, that i implied were too general…i feel there are many types of atheists, agnostic and believers, but i felt it was a good start, for the purposes of my argument, to identify the difference between beliefs about personal experience, and those that are applied universally, since my argument centers around the universalizing of atheistic vs. theistic cosmologies, and how such universality, regardless of its logic is subject to the rules of evidence….

      • that1guy

        Out of interest, what would your critique of my comment based on my use of the word Marxist have been?

        I’ll grant that any discussion requires some definition of terms if it is to be an exchange of knowledge rather than a fight, and also that in some discussions these definitions may be, to an extent, arbitrary, eg. when the utility gained outweighs benefits of using precise language(I took that to be the entirely valid point of your first video clip strangely enough). I just don’t think we’ve reached that balance yet with the taxonomy you presented. I’m not saying it isn’t a worthwhile endeavor.

        So, I’m asking again, why exclude transcendental experiences from the worldview of Atheists and Agnostics macro and micro? As it stands, in spite of what I think is you protesting that assertion, this is what you do. The only category that accounts for spiritual experience is the “theist.” Theism implies a belief in deity. Ergo your claim is that recognition of a world beyond the material is recognition of the possibility of deity.

        To be fair, you do mention that there are “at least” two types of Atheist, theist, and(by law of permutation probably) agnostics, so an unnamed type of atheist or agnostic person could be our absent non-theist spiritualist. But this just begs the question, why stop considering variation at the level of personal and universal? Why not account for people who are capable of holding more complicated opinions than spiritual=gods? And if that’s what you meant to do, why cling to the term theist in the first place? It just reeks of unchecked Apollonian impulse and discomfort with complexity to me.

        Anyways, semantics aside,

        On your scale, I am a micro-agnostic with a macro-atheistic bent. I’m less an agnostic in the doubt everything sense than in the believe everything sense, but that pretty much includes scientific rationalism, so I tend to evaluate all dogmatic belief systems(secular included) on that level. What contribution do they make to life on earth. Pestilence? War? Manufactured scarcity? Guilt and emotional suffering? If so, then no matter what the supernatural justification, I believe we can do without them just fine. So there’s your macro-atheist part.

        But how descriptive is that really? You don’t actually know what personal and political ethos I live by through that, or what I think happens to us when we die, or what I think the point of life is?

        Why not just ask to begin with instead of making people jump through a bunch of hoops first?

        • ken vallario

          i just have a moment…
          but first i’ll respond to your final comment (hoops)…if you’ve noticed the arbitrary assignment of labels, have actually allowed for a more efficient dialogue, now i feel, in terms of your comment that we ‘are really talkin’ and i like your comment a lot.
          in terms of the transcendental…i think any form of consciousness that exists outside of our scientific expectations, can be referred to as a type of god or diety, since it exists outside our perceived closed system approach, and is affecting us with purpose. this would, most likely, be tied somehow to historical references to this word, which is why i continue to use it.
          when people are left without an arbitrary taxonomy or system, as you’ve seen in prior posts, they fall back on general terms and this allows them to make arguments without a logical structure, and it quickly becomes personal.
          i would suggest you come up with a taxonomy of transcendental experiences, where consciousness is not present. that would add to the breadth of our discussion, and i would be happy to weigh in…

          • that1guy

            “i think any form of consciousness that exists outside of our scientific expectations, can be referred to as a type of god or diety, since it exists outside our perceived closed system approach”
            This is where our current disagreement lies. There are a number of ways to approach what might exist outside of the material world that do not involve an omnipotent outside consciousness, though they may or may not involve non-scientific and non-material cosmologies. The non-theism one encounters after a more than cursory look into Buddhist practice exhibits this pretty well. Or the spirit of community experienced by Atheists at UUA services (a spirit of community which your second video used a proof of the validity and necessity of of faith in God). I could go on, but I think you already get it, and I don’t want to insult your intelligence. In my eyes, if your theses remain unchanged, your taxonomy is pressing qualities onto spiritual experience that are not as universal to such experiences as you think they are.
            Now, as for changes to make this taxonomy more accurate: if we want to create a 4th category of non-theist spiritualists, I guess that’s all right, but, within your system, I think tacking on the modifiers “transcendent,” “non-transcendent,” or “spiritually aware,” or something else along those lines, would be a better solution, because, just as there are transcendent macro-atheists, whose personal knowledge of the spiritual relies on a complex astrophysical cosmology, there are non-transcendent theists, who adhere to ideology for little more than social and territorial reasons. The reverse is also true.
            As for me coming up with an independent taxonomy of experience, I’m going to have to disappoint you there. If someone can’t take the time to reason out their opinion and doesn’t have the patience to respond civilly to questions about their opinions or their reasoning, I’m not that interested in what they think or what they have to say, and I’m definitely not interested in trying to a create a new language for them to say it in.

          • ken vallario

            as i seem to be in the habit of doing, i’ll respond to the end of your recent comment first, then go back to the heart of it.
            as far as addressing those who choose not to respond in a civil fashion, and the reasons i have for coming up with language for them to use…it is a mixture of a love of Socratic exchange, as well as a desire to create linguistic defenses for those who wish to create unity, rather than give into the blog forums tendency toward ‘last-wordism’…i actually believe that these comment sections of blogs are a 21st century forum of free-exchange, and represent a real hope for philosophical dialogue…
            but now onto your point concerning the ‘transcendental.’ you are right to bring this up, and i would enjoy talking to you more about it. my understanding of the term is that it represents aspects of existence that surpass our capacity for understanding.
            i don’t feel that experiences of actual cosmic consciousnesses necessarily have to be transcendent, that they might represent outside affectations of ‘self’ and their affects might be of a very ordinary nature, the guidance that comes from a higher power, etc. i have contrasted that with agnosticism and atheism, and have presented all 3 as having a possible rational character, and therefore owing to one another a mutuality of respect and the capacity to arrive at the debate with a self-understanding that i think these terms help to elucidate.
            now, given that defense…i believe you are right to bring up transcendent qualities as relating directly to such a conversation…but i have not given it as much thought as perhaps you might have. i actually entertain rather material explanations for ‘gods’ or ‘deomans’, as simply referring to forces that exists within the fabric of space/time, that are conscious and have what can only be referred to as ‘personality’…this is provocative but i am putting it on the table, not to argue for it, but to be explicit about my ignorance of those things one might call transcendent.
            in other words, whether they be aliens, or emergent awarenesses in space/time, if they have ‘self’ and ‘motivation’ and ‘affect’, and they have had all 3 of these at times in history, and they were recorded as ‘gods’ or ‘inspirations of god’, etc. then we have reason to defend the rational reality of this claim.
            the more transcendent aspects of the universe, i imply by all this, will have to wait until people accept a wider form of skepticism about our existence.
            i suppose my skepticism about any of us talking about ‘the transcendent’ is that you seem to imply that this quality lacks a sense of ‘self’, or ‘self-awareness’…this to me, would simply mean that the transcendent refers to forces that affect us, like gravity, but does so without motivation. and that these forces can be perceived but not quite understood, and in doing so, we can verify it only by the language that refers to its ‘unspeakability.’ of course, i’ve read the tao te ching, and i know of the known unknowns toward which you point…but i suppose i admit a guilty pleasure in the games, as i’ve come to see attachment as a form of play…i’m getting off point now…
            how would your understanding of the transcendent help the conversation become more transcendent…you have already achieved this, but i suppose i am simply hitting the ball back over the net.
            to my mind it seems that for a theist, transcendence is like seeing into the future and perceiving the goals of creation…more on that later, i suppose

          • that1guy

            Very interesting. A little road map, 1. theism vs. an openness to non-human agency 2. Transcendence or what-have-you 3. answer to the last question.
            1. It’s becoming clear that I have a lot of baggage regarding the term theist that you don’t have, namely that I think it refers to belief in deity, and that deities are by definition of the omnipotent variety, and that you are a little less particular what sort of belief theism implies. Seems like that’s pretty well cleared up.
            2. I don’t claim to be an expert or anything, and my usage of transcendent as a modifier probably reflects real ignorance on some level. But as I view it, knowledge or experience of something larger than the material world can include a knowledge or experience that senses a consciousness or embodied otherness, or it can be an experience of otherness that is disembodied, not entity-like at all and whole. Basically, self-affirming knowledge of deity may be possible within a transcendent experience, but it is arguably not necessary to it.
            3. In answer to your question: We seem to be separate from that which we also seem to be a part of, and that’s something to be perplexed by and happy about, whether you believe in god or not. The borders are thin.

          • ken vallario

            again, 3 first, then onto 1….
            3. paradox…it seems to me that paradox is the most transcendent beauty to be found in this world of ideas…
            1. as you say, i don’ t necessarily require God to be omnipotent…one of my many ideas of God, is the struggling artist, working against darkness to spread light into the void, and doing so under great duress and doubt…
            2. my concept of ‘otherness’ is deeply influenced by Buber’s ‘I and Thou’, one of my favorite books, and therefore i think of the ‘other’ as being conscious of itself, and therefore in active relationship with me. however, i do think there are aspects of the transcendent that do not need to be fully conscious, and i support you in developing that idea.

            i would like to put another theory on the table i’ve been working on concerning a very materialist explanation of God:

            imagine a very creative young child, imaginative, who takes to talking to God as a youth, and he prays at night and imagines a watchful and loving God out in space…now imagine that no ‘outward’ God actually exists, but given the impressionability of the young mind, he develops this ideation and affirms it over and over…along with this take the concept of emergence theory, and what we know about the brain, as a very deep binary memory system. one might say the boy’s personality emerges as he collects experiences and sense data and slowly begins to recognize himself. but at the same time he continues, because it is comforting to him, to speak and relate to the imaginary God…but, as a youth he imagined what this God would say, how he would respond, and he would have psychic dramas with this figure inside of his mind. just as a computer programmer would install dynamic programs into an A.I. system, this young man has installed a program into his mind….one might say he has created an artificial person inside of himself, in the computer of his mind. this ‘artificial’ person, we might ask ourselves, might exhibit some of the free-will of the ‘actual’ person, it might be fully aware of itself, and might actually struggle to express itself in the life of the boy. in such a situation, one would be forced to ask oneself about the ethical ramifications of this…and given that young people prior to the enlightenment were certainly raised like this, we are given a sense that ‘God’ might not have been real in the scientific material ‘outer’ sense, but actually existed as a ‘real’ person inside a plural body. this is a semantic move, to be sure, but it does allow us to have a sophisticated argument about whether or not the construction of just such a ‘higher self’ is useful to human thriving, or if it is better to eliminate alternate programs within the mind, and become fully singular…
            of course, i lean toward the idea that the ‘God’ program would allow for the kind of self-reflection, a check on one’s impulses, that makes higher forms of ethics possible…

  • that1guy

    Why cordon off any sort of experience outside of the material universe as intrinsically theist? Just because it is out of the realm of science does not put it within the realm of gods and goddesses. There are a multitude of non-material experiences and viewpoints that do not incorporate belief in deities in any traditional way.

    Furthermore, a person does not need to grant the existence of supernatural entities to believe in the supernatural.For example, I don’t believe in deities as real beings, but emptiness doctrine and a Buddhist understanding of karma both make sense to me. And contemplation of the two have consoled me in times of grief and lead to incredible experiences, that, like Dr. Brown Beardo’s experience in the second video, can perhaps be explained away by scientific materialism, but not to my personal satisfaction. Experiences can be self-affirming, and supernatural, and still not be experiences of God.

    A different example: I had a teacher who grew up during the cultural revolution in China. As a product of this, and in spite of being exiled for political viewpoints after he was grown, he still largely adheres to a secular, Marxist, and anti-religious world view. But he claims he’s been cut with psychic qi-gong knives and had cancerous lesions healed with fig leaves. Totally doesn’t believe in god though. Try putting him on the chart.

    Really, I’m surprised that someone who has argued in the past that the universe could be inherently irrational, this is a taxonomy that is really concerned with creating solid boundaries around different types of worldviews.

    If you really want to know where someone stands on something, just ask, and then really listen to what they say. You’ll end up with a much better idea of what that person thinks, and a much richer vocabulary for discussing issues of faith and belief than what you can come up with in a vacuum.

    That said, if the semantic system outlined above helps you bring a little order to your life, by all means implement it. But you should do so with the knowledge that you’re sacrificing accuracy for clarity and certainty, which is hardly the right foot to put forward on a search for truth.

  • ken vallario

    i was listening to Dr. Cornell West on TV tonight…he was responding to a very similar critique of notions of ‘left’ and ‘right’…and he made the assertion that ‘all language is provisional’, and that labels (taxonomies) are necessities within complicated dialogue, as long as they are utilized to clarify an argument and arise from an intention to create mutual understanding. the labels i’ve used explicitly refer to a few recent posts, where the theme, or context was set, and there was no implication of these ideas being intrinsic. just as it would be easy to critique your comment because of your use of the word Marxist, i will not, because i trust i have read the spirit of your statement, as indicated by the labels used…good language relies on a set of redundancies, hopefully, that account for its tendency toward misinterpretation, and your arguments were easy to understand even though you used many labels.

    rather, i am attempting actually to widen the notions of these words, that i implied were too general…i feel there are many types of atheists, agnostic and believers, but i felt it was a good start, for the purposes of my argument, to identify the difference between beliefs about personal experience, and those that are applied universally, since my argument centers around the universalizing of atheistic vs. theistic cosmologies, and how such universality, regardless of its logic is subject to the rules of evidence….

  • that1guy

    Out of interest, what would your critique of my comment based on my use of the word Marxist have been?

    I’ll grant that any discussion requires some definition of terms if it is to be an exchange of knowledge rather than a fight, and also that in some discussions these definitions may be, to an extent, arbitrary, eg. when the utility gained outweighs benefits of using precise language(I took that to be the entirely valid point of your first video clip strangely enough). I just don’t think we’ve reached that balance yet with the taxonomy you presented. I’m not saying it isn’t a worthwhile endeavor.

    So, I’m asking again, why exclude transcendental experiences from the worldview of Atheists and Agnostics macro and micro? As it stands, in spite of what I think is you protesting that assertion, this is what you do. The only category that accounts for spiritual experience is the “theist.” Theism implies a belief in deity. Ergo your claim is that recognition of a world beyond the material is recognition of the possibility of deity.

    To be fair, you do mention that there are “at least” two types of Atheist, theist, and(by law of permutation probably) agnostics, so an unnamed type of atheist or agnostic person could be our absent non-theist spiritualist. But this just begs the question, why stop considering variation at the level of personal and universal? Why not account for people who are capable of holding more complicated opinions than spiritual=gods? And if that’s what you meant to do, why cling to the term theist in the first place? It just reeks of unchecked Apollonian impulse and discomfort with complexity to me.

    Anyways, semantics aside,

    On your scale, I am a micro-agnostic with a macro-atheistic bent. I’m less an agnostic in the doubt everything sense than in the believe everything sense, but that pretty much includes scientific rationalism, so I tend to evaluate all dogmatic belief systems(secular included) on that level. What contribution do they make to life on earth. Pestilence? War? Manufactured scarcity? Guilt and emotional suffering? If so, then no matter what the supernatural justification, I believe we can do without them just fine. So there’s your macro-atheist part.

    But how descriptive is that really? You don’t actually know what personal and political ethos I live by through that, or what I think happens to us when we die, or what I think the point of life is?

    Why not just ask to begin with instead of making people jump through a bunch of hoops first?

  • that1guy

    the second one was a little hard to sit through without face-palming

  • MalabarFront

    Excellent little article. I find orthodox atheists as boring and irrelevant as orthodox theists. In fact, they’re two sides of the same coin: they actually worship orthodoxy – that state of grace where you have decided you can stop taking in data because you’ve got it all figured out.

  • MalabarFront

    Excellent little article. I find orthodox atheists as boring and irrelevant as orthodox theists. In fact, they’re two sides of the same coin: they actually worship orthodoxy – that state of grace where you have decided you can stop taking in data because you’ve got it all figured out.

  • ken vallario

    i just have a moment…
    but first i’ll respond to your final comment (hoops)…if you’ve noticed the arbitrary assignment of labels, have actually allowed for a more efficient dialogue, now i feel, in terms of your comment that we ‘are really talkin’ and i like your comment a lot.
    in terms of the transcendental…i think any form of consciousness that exists outside of our scientific expectations, can be referred to as a type of god or diety, since it exists outside our perceived closed system approach, and is affecting us with purpose. this would, most likely, be tied somehow to historical references to this word, which is why i continue to use it.
    when people are left without an arbitrary taxonomy or system, as you’ve seen in prior posts, they fall back on general terms and this allows them to make arguments without a logical structure, and it quickly becomes personal.
    i would suggest you come up with a taxonomy of transcendental experiences, where consciousness is not present. that would add to the breadth of our discussion, and i would be happy to weigh in…

  • Manny Furious

    “I expected Disinfo visitors to be better than this. AA religion is an organisation based on worship of the supernatural.Atheism is lack of a belief in God.

    Atheism is a belief system. If you can’t grasp that, this argument is finished.”

    Religion is just a “belief system” as well. If you can’t grap that, then this discussion hasn’t even begun.

    Sure, Atheism differs from Religion in the details, no one can deny that. But there is “Orthodox/fundamental” atheism just as there is “orthodox/fundamental” religion. My issue with atheists has nothing to do with there propositions. Maybe atheists are right. I don’t know. My problem lies in how extreme atheists, seemingly like yourself, are just as shackled to your “belief system” as any religious extremist.

  • Manny Furious

    “LOL @ you thinking those weapons were made in the name of atheism.

    Without science you wouldn’t even be typing this on a screen, nor would you have any of the medicines that I’m sure have helped keep you alive.

    Claims like this prove the first point I made.”

    You’re a fucking idiot. Where did you learn how to read? When did I ever say those weapons were built in the name of atheism???

    And when did I ever say science was good for nothing? Quit putting words in my mouth (or on my screen) that I never implied. All I’m saying is science is not the pathway to “peace and tranquility and enlightenment” that so many athesists make it out to be. I think there are good sides to science… such as driving in cars, flying in planes, typing on computers, having ice to go with my water, etc. There are also good things with religion that atheists seem to conveniently forge when they’re on their high horses preaching the fire and brimstone gospel of anti-religion.

    What’s most funny about your responses is that any half-wit can see that I’m a “moderate” on this subject and you’re attacking me like I’m a fucking evangelical. Well, fuck you and IP address you rode in on.

  • Jon M

    If you want to know why emotions regularly get brought into play in these discussions then you need only know this simple fact: Theists do not like people telling them that their entire world-view is a lie and Atheist do not like being told that they are sinners who will burn in hell. Quite simple really.

  • Jon M

    If you want to know why emotions regularly get brought into play in these discussions then you need only know this simple fact: Theists do not like people telling them that their entire world-view is a lie and Atheist do not like being told that they are sinners who will burn in hell. Quite simple really.

    • that1guy

      Makes sense, especially if baggage from previous conversations is brought into more civil disagreements about the nature of the unknown.

  • that1guy

    Makes sense, especially if baggage from previous conversations is brought into more civil disagreements about the nature of the unknown.

  • that1guy

    “i think any form of consciousness that exists outside of our scientific expectations, can be referred to as a type of god or diety, since it exists outside our perceived closed system approach”
    This is where our current disagreement lies. There are a number of ways to approach what might exist outside of the material world that do not involve an omnipotent outside consciousness, though they may or may not involve non-scientific and non-material cosmologies. The non-theism one encounters after a more than cursory look into Buddhist practice exhibits this pretty well. Or the spirit of community experienced by Atheists at UUA services (a spirit of community which your second video used a proof of the validity and necessity of of faith in God). I could go on, but I think you already get it, and I don’t want to insult your intelligence. In my eyes, if your theses remain unchanged, your taxonomy is pressing qualities onto spiritual experience that are not as universal to such experiences as you think they are.
    Now, as for changes to make this taxonomy more accurate: if we want to create a 4th category of non-theist spiritualists, I guess that’s all right, but, within your system, I think tacking on the modifiers “transcendent,” “non-transcendent,” or “spiritually aware,” or something else along those lines, would be a better solution, because, just as there are transcendent macro-atheists, whose personal knowledge of the spiritual relies on a complex astrophysical cosmology, there are non-transcendent theists, who adhere to ideology for little more than social and territorial reasons. The reverse is also true.
    As for me coming up with an independent taxonomy of experience, I’m going to have to disappoint you there. If someone can’t take the time to reason out their opinion and doesn’t have the patience to respond civilly to questions about their opinions or their reasoning, I’m not that interested in what they think or what they have to say, and I’m definitely not interested in trying to a create a new language for them to say it in.

  • ken vallario

    as i seem to be in the habit of doing, i’ll respond to the end of your recent comment first, then go back to the heart of it.
    as far as addressing those who choose not to respond in a civil fashion, and the reasons i have for coming up with language for them to use…it is a mixture of a love of Socratic exchange, as well as a desire to create linguistic defenses for those who wish to create unity, rather than give into the blog forums tendency toward ‘last-wordism’…i actually believe that these comment sections of blogs are a 21st century forum of free-exchange, and represent a real hope for philosophical dialogue…
    but now onto your point concerning the ‘transcendental.’ you are right to bring this up, and i would enjoy talking to you more about it. my understanding of the term is that it represents aspects of existence that surpass our capacity for understanding.
    i don’t feel that experiences of actual cosmic consciousnesses necessarily have to be transcendent, that they might represent outside affectations of ‘self’ and their affects might be of a very ordinary nature, the guidance that comes from a higher power, etc. i have contrasted that with agnosticism and atheism, and have presented all 3 as having a possible rational character, and therefore owing to one another a mutuality of respect and the capacity to arrive at the debate with a self-understanding that i think these terms help to elucidate.
    now, given that defense…i believe you are right to bring up transcendent qualities as relating directly to such a conversation…but i have not given it as much thought as perhaps you might have. i actually entertain rather material explanations for ‘gods’ or ‘deomans’, as simply referring to forces that exists within the fabric of space/time, that are conscious and have what can only be referred to as ‘personality’…this is provocative but i am putting it on the table, not to argue for it, but to be explicit about my ignorance of those things one might call transcendent.
    in other words, whether they be aliens, or emergent awarenesses in space/time, if they have ‘self’ and ‘motivation’ and ‘affect’, and they have had all 3 of these at times in history, and they were recorded as ‘gods’ or ‘inspirations of god’, etc. then we have reason to defend the rational reality of this claim.
    the more transcendent aspects of the universe, i imply by all this, will have to wait until people accept a wider form of skepticism about our existence.
    i suppose my skepticism about any of us talking about ‘the transcendent’ is that you seem to imply that this quality lacks a sense of ‘self’, or ‘self-awareness’…this to me, would simply mean that the transcendent refers to forces that affect us, like gravity, but does so without motivation. and that these forces can be perceived but not quite understood, and in doing so, we can verify it only by the language that refers to its ‘unspeakability.’ of course, i’ve read the tao te ching, and i know of the known unknowns toward which you point…but i suppose i admit a guilty pleasure in the games, as i’ve come to see attachment as a form of play…i’m getting off point now…
    how would your understanding of the transcendent help the conversation become more transcendent…you have already achieved this, but i suppose i am simply hitting the ball back over the net.
    to my mind it seems that for a theist, transcendence is like seeing into the future and perceiving the goals of creation…more on that later, i suppose

  • that1guy

    Very interesting. A little road map, 1. theism vs. an openness to non-human agency 2. Transcendence or what-have-you 3. answer to the last question.
    1. It’s becoming clear that I have a lot of baggage regarding the term theist that you don’t have, namely that I think it refers to belief in deity, and that deities are by definition of the omnipotent variety, and that you are a little less particular what sort of belief theism implies. Seems like that’s pretty well cleared up.
    2. I don’t claim to be an expert or anything, and my usage of transcendent as a modifier probably reflects real ignorance on some level. But as I view it, knowledge or experience of something larger than the material world can include a knowledge or experience that senses a consciousness or embodied otherness, or it can be an experience of otherness that is disembodied, not entity-like at all and whole. Basically, self-affirming knowledge of deity may be possible within a transcendent experience, but it is arguably not necessary to it.
    3. In answer to your question: We seem to be separate from that which we also seem to be a part of, and that’s something to be perplexed by and happy about, whether you believe in god or not. The borders are thin.

  • that1guy

    Very interesting. A little road map, 1. theism vs. an openness to non-human agency 2. Transcendence or what-have-you 3. answer to the last question.
    1. It’s becoming clear that I have a lot of baggage regarding the term theist that you don’t have, namely that I think it refers to belief in deity, and that deities are by definition of the omnipotent variety, and that you are a little less particular what sort of belief theism implies. Seems like that’s pretty well cleared up.
    2. I don’t claim to be an expert or anything, and my usage of transcendent as a modifier probably reflects real ignorance on some level. But as I view it, knowledge or experience of something larger than the material world can include a knowledge or experience that senses a consciousness or embodied otherness, or it can be an experience of otherness that is disembodied, not entity-like at all and whole. Basically, self-affirming knowledge of deity may be possible within a transcendent experience, but it is arguably not necessary to it.
    3. In answer to your question: We seem to be separate from that which we also seem to be a part of, and that’s something to be perplexed by and happy about, whether you believe in god or not. The borders are thin.

  • that1guy

    Very interesting. A little road map, 1. theism vs. an openness to non-human agency 2. Transcendence or what-have-you 3. answer to the last question.
    1. It’s becoming clear that I have a lot of baggage regarding the term theist that you don’t have, namely that I think it refers to belief in deity, and that deities are by definition of the omnipotent variety, and that you are a little less particular what sort of belief theism implies. Seems like that’s pretty well cleared up.
    2. I don’t claim to be an expert or anything, and my usage of transcendent as a modifier probably reflects real ignorance on some level. But as I view it, knowledge or experience of something larger than the material world can include a knowledge or experience that senses a consciousness or embodied otherness, or it can be an experience of otherness that is disembodied, not entity-like at all and whole. Basically, self-affirming knowledge of deity may be possible within a transcendent experience, but it is arguably not necessary to it.
    3. In answer to your question: We seem to be separate from that which we also seem to be a part of, and that’s something to be perplexed by and happy about, whether you believe in god or not. The borders are thin.

  • ken vallario

    again, 3 first, then onto 1….
    3. paradox…it seems to me that paradox is the most transcendent beauty to be found in this world of ideas…
    1. as you say, i don’ t necessarily require God to be omnipotent…one of my many ideas of God, is the struggling artist, working against darkness to spread light into the void, and doing so under great duress and doubt…
    2. my concept of ‘otherness’ is deeply influenced by Buber’s ‘I and Thou’, one of my favorite books, and therefore i think of the ‘other’ as being conscious of itself, and therefore in active relationship with me. however, i do think there are aspects of the transcendent that do not need to be fully conscious, and i support you in developing that idea.

    i would like to put another theory on the table i’ve been working on concerning a very materialist explanation of God:

    imagine a very creative young child, imaginative, who takes to talking to God as a youth, and he prays at night and imagines a watchful and loving God out in space…now imagine that no ‘outward’ God actually exists, but given the impressionability of the young mind, he develops this ideation and affirms it over and over…along with this take the concept of emergence theory, and what we know about the brain, as a very deep binary memory system. one might say the boy’s personality emerges as he collects experiences and sense data and slowly begins to recognize himself. but at the same time he continues, because it is comforting to him, to speak and relate to the imaginary God…but, as a youth he imagined what this God would say, how he would respond, and he would have psychic dramas with this figure inside of his mind. just as a computer programmer would install dynamic programs into an A.I. system, this young man has installed a program into his mind….one might say he has created an artificial person inside of himself, in the computer of his mind. this ‘artificial’ person, we might ask ourselves, might exhibit some of the free-will of the ‘actual’ person, it might be fully aware of itself, and might actually struggle to express itself in the life of the boy. in such a situation, one would be forced to ask oneself about the ethical ramifications of this…and given that young people prior to the enlightenment were certainly raised like this, we are given a sense that ‘God’ might not have been real in the scientific material ‘outer’ sense, but actually existed as a ‘real’ person inside a plural body. this is a semantic move, to be sure, but it does allow us to have a sophisticated argument about whether or not the construction of just such a ‘higher self’ is useful to human thriving, or if it is better to eliminate alternate programs within the mind, and become fully singular…
    of course, i lean toward the idea that the ‘God’ program would allow for the kind of self-reflection, a check on one’s impulses, that makes higher forms of ethics possible…

  • ken vallario

    again, 3 first, then onto 1….
    3. paradox…it seems to me that paradox is the most transcendent beauty to be found in this world of ideas…
    1. as you say, i don’ t necessarily require God to be omnipotent…one of my many ideas of God, is the struggling artist, working against darkness to spread light into the void, and doing so under great duress and doubt…
    2. my concept of ‘otherness’ is deeply influenced by Buber’s ‘I and Thou’, one of my favorite books, and therefore i think of the ‘other’ as being conscious of itself, and therefore in active relationship with me. however, i do think there are aspects of the transcendent that do not need to be fully conscious, and i support you in developing that idea.

    i would like to put another theory on the table i’ve been working on concerning a very materialist explanation of God:

    imagine a very creative young child, imaginative, who takes to talking to God as a youth, and he prays at night and imagines a watchful and loving God out in space…now imagine that no ‘outward’ God actually exists, but given the impressionability of the young mind, he develops this ideation and affirms it over and over…along with this take the concept of emergence theory, and what we know about the brain, as a very deep binary memory system. one might say the boy’s personality emerges as he collects experiences and sense data and slowly begins to recognize himself. but at the same time he continues, because it is comforting to him, to speak and relate to the imaginary God…but, as a youth he imagined what this God would say, how he would respond, and he would have psychic dramas with this figure inside of his mind. just as a computer programmer would install dynamic programs into an A.I. system, this young man has installed a program into his mind….one might say he has created an artificial person inside of himself, in the computer of his mind. this ‘artificial’ person, we might ask ourselves, might exhibit some of the free-will of the ‘actual’ person, it might be fully aware of itself, and might actually struggle to express itself in the life of the boy. in such a situation, one would be forced to ask oneself about the ethical ramifications of this…and given that young people prior to the enlightenment were certainly raised like this, we are given a sense that ‘God’ might not have been real in the scientific material ‘outer’ sense, but actually existed as a ‘real’ person inside a plural body. this is a semantic move, to be sure, but it does allow us to have a sophisticated argument about whether or not the construction of just such a ‘higher self’ is useful to human thriving, or if it is better to eliminate alternate programs within the mind, and become fully singular…
    of course, i lean toward the idea that the ‘God’ program would allow for the kind of self-reflection, a check on one’s impulses, that makes higher forms of ethics possible…

  • Tuna Ghost

    Forgetting this whole micro/macro nonsense, the simplest explanation – the explanation which has served us perfectly well until this point – is that atheism is simply the lack of belief in a God.

    Agnostics also lack a belief in god. The definition you’ve offered hasn’t served us well, which is why people have used words that further distinguish belief structures, to answer your first question.

    As for outside consciousness, I assume you mean the same outside consciousness that schizophrenics hear, experience and feel?

    Labeling all religious experiences as a debilitating mental disorder is a bit glib, not to mention potentially insulting.

    You do realise that science has demonstrated religious experience to be a result of a malfunctioning temporal/ and or parietal lobes?

    This is a pretty big exaggeration. At any rate, a religiously inclined person could just easily answer that their lobes are working just fine, and that it is your lobes that have a deficiency.

    Furthermore, there are many syndromes – such as Charles Bonnet syndrome, in which the most mind boggling hallucinations are produced due to visual degenerations.

    In other words, the mind plays tricks on us. Frequently. What would be the more reasoned explanation – that God alone has singled you out to talk to, or your brain has inadvertantly tricked you, as it often does?

    This is more in the area of the mind/body dilemma, a subject in which I’m very fascinated, but there is not much space to delve into it here. Simply put, where are you drawing the line between “your brain” and “you”? I mean, that’s without even delving into the implications of altered states of consciousness. Also, a religiously inclined person could (and do, in fact) claim that their god(s) have dominion over brains, so who’s to say whether or not one is being given “visions” of divine origins?

    These are some of the reasons why people believe in ‘the other’. A simple google search will bring up plenty of evidence for each one. So, yes, there is plenty of proof.

    If only it were that easy! Unfortunately, none of the things you’ve offered are actually “proof”. They only prove that there are reasons for people to believe in something, reasons that are based on something other than its actual existence, which is probably isn’t news to anybody.

    There’s a lot I was going to write, but I think its best to remind you that science does not, as is commonly believed, tell us how the universe is, only how it appears. This is admitted by physicists. The study of how things actually are, the study of being qua being, is called metaphysics. It is a frustrating field and it goes in and out of fashion in regular intervals throughout western history.

    When formulating ideas about what a being with intelligence, structure, and power several orders higher than our own, it serves one well to try and imagine what a creature would appear like to us. If you saw it, could you even begin to distinguish it from the backround? Can an ant discern you from the rest of its environment? Could you even begin to conceptualize being or structure on that level? How exactly are we supposed to conceive of an intelligence several orders higher than our own, anyway?

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/JohnMeetsFKennedy JMFK

    Nice classifications.
    But remember: Classifications aren’t there for us to fit in them, but rather to help us locate ourselves in the whole spectrum of possibilities.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/JohnMeetsFKennedy JMFK

    Nice classifications.
    But remember: Classifications aren’t there for us to fit in them, but rather to help us locate ourselves in the whole spectrum of possibilities.

  • Nyxynox

    Thank you for this article. Although it is not a perfect cubby hole system, it is a start. I think we should also create a common lexicon for these debates. I find that when I debate god, religion, mythology, etc. people assume I mean something I don’t because we are using different definitions for the same words. For example, Hmm, in the comments below, defined “religion” as “an organization based on worship of the supernatural” whereas I define “religion” as the practical application of spirituality, no central organization required. And I define “mythology” as a story of the human condition, not a falsehood.

  • Nyxynox

    Thank you for this article. Although it is not a perfect cubby hole system, it is a start. I think we should also create a common lexicon for these debates. I find that when I debate god, religion, mythology, etc. people assume I mean something I don’t because we are using different definitions for the same words. For example, Hmm, in the comments below, defined “religion” as “an organization based on worship of the supernatural” whereas I define “religion” as the practical application of spirituality, no central organization required. And I define “mythology” as a story of the human condition, not a falsehood.

  • Debrazgalaxy

    Many people that are not ready to give up their hurts caused to them by other people say to themselves many of the following phrases: “There is NO God” or
    “Why did YOU do this God?”..”You must not like me God”..”You hurt ME God”.
    Your hearts were NOT YET prepared to accept that all will get hurt in life.
    Where as Christians, even the “baby” ones…KNOW that God grows US through the tough times in order to show His love and mercy on not ONLY our lives but so that WE may HAVE compassion for THOSE THAT WRONG us.
    To stay in the place of “poor me, they hurt ME” is opposite of His desire for your heart~ It is His will that NONE suffer alone.
    We are equal beings with CHOICE. Choice to retaliate and GROW the hate in the world with a negative projection .

    Choice to USE what GOD brings us through~ to COUNSEL and help the world…. choice to step away from the “poor me” which festers a heart.
    Interesting also… when a person disallows that there is a God..they are siding with the very group that caused THEM harm in the first place~

    Also..have you ever thought about HOWE MUCH FAITH it takes to believe as you do?
    ….
    I chose your post as a springboard…due to the last name~ I am kinda’ fond of it (c:

  • Debrazgalaxy

    How is it that we evolved form a tiny cell? We could not survive with out an entire system for each of our functions ~ For example~ One cell at a time..we could not have the appetite for food..the ability to get it…the hand to grab it..the mouth to open ..the teeth to chew..throat to swallow…stomach to digest..and well you see the direction I am going ~
    All of these things had to be in place at the same time~ Our adrenal systems, skin..eyes etc…are all the same story~ dysfunctional with out the whole system in place at the same time~

  • Debrazgalaxy

    WOW, I am grateful that I know what I know~ and am not led to study and know all of these terms (c:

    Proof of God is in a prepared heart that hears for the very FIRST time what it first HATED and cursed as LIES~
    DZA~

    • Andrew

      Capitalization of certain words does not make a statement true.

      • Debrazgalaxy

        Ah I think I invented doing this (c:
        for EMPHASIS back in the day when I started it..everyone commented that caps were shouting…now it is used in many places ~ WOW~ I am famous….

        • justagirl

          >: i hate it when kindle does that… thanks a lot.

          • Debrazgalaxy

            LOL~
            I think caps makes it easier to know a persons frame of mind~
            Though knowing if it is displaying exuberance verses anger might be in the heart of the viewer.

  • Debrazgalaxy

    WOW, I am grateful that I know what I know~ and am not led to study and know all of these terms (c:

    Proof of God is in a prepared heart that hears for the very FIRST time what it first HATED and cursed as LIES~
    DZA~

  • Andrew

    Capitalization of certain words does not make a statement true.

  • Andrew

    God sounds like a father that stands by while his son rapes his daughter then tells her he didn’t intervene so that they would both depend on him more and grow closer as a family.

  • Debrazgalaxy

    Ah I think I invented doing this (c:
    for EMPHASIS back in the day when I started it..everyone commented that caps were shouting…now it is used in many places ~ WOW~ I am famous….

  • Debrazgalaxy

    uhm no~
    I hope that you are not antagonized by someone who follows Christ and His rules of conduct~ God IS able to accomplish more than we can compprehend..not through misdeed~ PEOPLE choose to do misdeeds~

    The scriptures do tell of you and other non believers.

    Look at this verses from John…

    John 3:11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
    ~~~~

    Plus LOOK at this promise God made for YOU~
    I KNOW you have heard John 3:16 (c:

    John 3:16″For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

    ~~~
    THEN… the chapter goes on to tell you that HE is NOT a bully or a behavioral (c:

    John 3:17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
    ~~~~
    See THE choice belongs to all of us~

    John 3:18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
    ~~~~

    Sooo… I wrote this in HOPE that GOD is seeking YOU…the one I am posting to..but BEING that I am NOT GOD…. I don’t know if He wants YOU to KNOW Him …of IF these verses will touch anothers heart… BUT I guarantee that Gods word NEVER returns void… (Also in the Bible) so THE person He is trying to reach WILL have the seeds of faith planted… OR one of the siblings in this thread will SEE that we don’t have to beat people up in Gods name (c:
    Just deliver His messages~

    Hope that this is MEANT for YOU tho~ Don’t let misinformation or immature behavior by ‘baby Christians’ sway your thinking for yourself Andrew~
    Deb~

  • Andrew

    > Don’t let misinformation or immature behavior by ‘baby Christians’ sway your thinking for yourself Andrew~

    I try not to, which is why we disagree on the value and validity of the Bible.

  • justagirl

    >: i hate it when kindle does that… thanks a lot.

  • Debrazgalaxy

    LOL~
    I think caps makes it easier to know a persons frame of mind~
    Though knowing if it is displaying exuberance verses anger might be in the heart of the viewer.

  • Debrazgalaxy

    As in all topics Andrew~ there are misbehaviors in some who participate~
    Think of going to a dentist.. (OW..I KNOW..bad choice, but it wil make my point easier to make)
    If your dentist does something wrong and you lose a tooth~
    You would be angry and speak out against dentists…but ultimately you would end up finding another dentist…because we know we need them… that ONE dentist does NOT mean all dentists are bad.

    Or a co~ worker that slacks off…that does NOT mean you quit your job..

    A child that misbehaves…. YOU don’t kick them out and send your other kids packing too…

    Yet when the subject is GOD~
    People draw a line in the sand and determine to drop Him due to instances of a few behaviorals~

    Salvation is a much more serious subjecst than mere teeth or employment…
    A few more things to ponder ~I could just write :
    ” People did NOT write the Bible…God made it RIGHT”… but that would not help to clear anything~

    Once we ask God .. “Are YOU for real”.. the answer is swift.
    With the Bible and the question…we LEARN first hand the truths He is trying to provide.
    We experience the very things that others who have accepted have learned for THEMselves.
    God is NOT something we learn from a book like math or science..or OPRAHS self serve book list choices…
    Those books just tell us what SOMEONE else learned firsthand… or things that others figured out FOR US~ and we only ‘know’ something because we memorize anothers hard work.
    God provides FISRT person experience~

    For your further reading pleasure (c:
    If God was man made…wouldn’t we have invented one that ALLOWED serving self ? One that allows mean,angry and violent people to go unchecked?

    What stops some seeking people from experiencing the ‘feeling’ of Gods existance ..is disbelief that creeps up ..because it seems easier than what feels LIKE surrendering. Like once we FULLY believe..we are gonna’ have to be all nice and helpful and TELL people about God… SO many of us resist~
    …I have ALWAYS believed and felt His presence..even when I denied it or ran from it.
    Then I went to admitting He was real and defending that with : “YES I AM A Christian..HOW DARE YOU , you nasty &#*(#^! tell me I am NOT one…”
    Then I had a “WEIRD” experience on my way to a hospital to see my mom..( I had had many of the weird (READ :GOD moments) in my life..but tried to think they were something else…cuz’ WHO would believe ME?!?…)
    THEN I eneded up praying boldly out loud with out thought to what I was saying or caring WHO was hearing or seeing me … ONLY caring that I COULD BRING a peace and salvation to my mom.
    ~~. Even tho’ my mom died that day, I experienced a series of VERY HELPFUL small and LARGE miracles that came from NO HANDS of humans. . I ALSO experienced THE WORSE OPPOSITION ATTACK
    E V E R 3 days later the night before my moms funeral.. a physical attack that was WAY beyond what I could comprehend at the moment…SO I had to pretend it did not happen ..so I could get the whole family through the funeral~(brothers and their spouses)
    I KNOW beyond a shadow of a DOUBT .. who inspired that assault.
    BUT God saw me through it and ALL the surrounding events~

    … once we MAKE a bold move to believe~ there IS opposition… but TRUSTING God makes THE REST VERY easily~ Showing God our trust…builds the relationship~ and the rewards are far to many to list in this lil’ box.

    Don’t think of others actions and misdeeds as excuses to NOT know His truth~
    Don’t THINK of God as a crutch.
    Think instead ,of this:

    We each have loved ones and close friends…
    DO you not get relief from having a person or persons to share things with, people you can confide in, or that can lead you to a solution ?

    Do you see THEM as a crutch?

    Nope~
    They are people we love and are grateful for~
    It’s called a relationship (c:

    Christianity is NOT a religion ~IT is a relationship ~ A relationship with God and a walk ever closer to His Son~

    We might start out as GRABBING on for our OWN peace of mind…but through development of the relationship..we are moved to share with others …in hopes of their choosing His way~

    If He was NOT the Truth the Light and The way…who would subject themselves to verbal and physical abuse for trying to BRING others to KNOW God?

  • Andrew

    I’ve heard all that before, because I was raised Christian. My experiences with other Christians and what I thought was “God,” and my studies of the Bible and theology proved to me they were of human origin. I’m sure you will invalidate my experiences as a lack of understanding on my part, but don’t expect me to then value yours above my own.

  • Debrazgalaxy

    would never try and talk you out of what YOU lived through new friend ~
    I grew up going hit and miss to a Catholic church.when my family quit going..I walked to church a few times. BUT even as a child I always knew they were leaving out way to much..and celebrating the WRONG things. I witnessed the misbehavior of many adults..
    As an adult .. I know that people ON His path are at all different levels of understanding and growth.
    Some just go to church as a source of social acceptance..some just for appearance sake to their spouses..some for us CHURCH ladies cooking <c; *wink* BUT what ever gets us there.. is one step closer to MOVING closer to Gods purpose on our lives.
    I go to a Pentecostal church and serve with the gifts I am given,.in order to help grow the church (PEOPLE are the church)… PLUS I am a REALLY good cook..so they need me (c:
    I am not happy in a church of EXACT order and rituals..but SOME people thrive and grow in THOSE type of churchs~ As in ALL walks or hobbies…there are different levels of comitment and understanding…
    Perhaps wrong choices by people or the wrong type of church turned you away?
    That makes PEOPLE the problem, and NOT the word of God.

    tiny comparison… LOOK AT ALLLLL the different varieties of PIZZA ~ I once ATE a piece with PINEAPPLE…. what KNID of mistake WAS THAT! WHAT was the COOK thinking~ man..I don't even have WORDS for what THAT was like…. BUT PIZZA still remains my favorite food~

  • Andrew

    Well, in addition to my personal experiences I studied the Bible for several years from both Christian and non-Christian viewpoints. I firmly and strongly believe it is not the word of God. (And I don’t consider myself an atheist.) I don’t agree with all criticisms leveled against it, but there are passages that are clearly contradictory (unless one twists the meanings of words) and hypocritical/amoral/morally relative. The Bible makes perfect sense to me when viewed as an archaic pastiche, and has value as such, but it does not make sense as wholly factual and divine truth. And I believe it’s better to believe in things that make sense than things that don’t. If my personal experiences, my research, or my reason indicated Jesus was God, I might still believe, but all three indicate he was not.

  • Debrazgalaxy

    What seems like contridictions in in any subject exists~ When it comes to the bible tho’.. what appars to be discrepancies are due to a a few things~

    1)Not KNOWING whom the author is speaking to~ Was it the Pharisees? Jews? Samaritans? etc..

    2) Not allowing for the different circumastances being addressed.

    3) Not allowing for the fact that Jesus came to abolish some of the old laws, and to do away with past wrongs of people..

    4) Not cross referencing passages .

    5)Not having an OPEN heart to learn what IS being taught by the passages.

    It is NOT for everyone to KNOW all of the bible’s exact meaning on EvErYtHiNg~ when you are led by the Holy Spirit, you are guided through The Word and allow for GRACE and mercy within your life~ so as to grow to full potential~ in use for His kingdom… <— that part scares people …they do not know that it is just a natural progression of things..like anything that we love or desire to do.
    Not all are called to evangelism…some have gifts in other areas~ But there is a place in The Body Of Christ for any and all that desire the relationship~

  • Andrew

    I disagree.

  • Debrazgalaxy

    I do know for sure that Gods word never returns void~ It may not be you that these posts were meant for~ I can’t know for sure… But God does~
    Peace to you Andrew.

    Deb~

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4K3KM67XITZTXUE45K42KS4OEE brian

    Since everyone has touched on the other sections of your argument let me address an important one I think they missed. Your statement “Scientific enlightenment is NOT refraining from judgement; scientific enlightenment is about testing what works and what doesn’t.” is about as wrong of an explanation as it gets. Early on in the annals of astronomy, a cosmology was invented that explained all of the motions of the planets the sun, the moon and the stars as seen from the earth. It was perfect in every aspect…..It could predict any normally observable celestial event both far into the future and far into the past…and it was incredibly accurate in doing so. It worked beautifully. The only problem was it was entirely wrong. It was designed with the assumption that the Earth was the center of the solar system rather than the Sun. Now if Science Judged that knowledge as correct then they would never have been open to an alternative view. (As it was Religion was the main obstacle…..as it Judged the earth being the center of the Solar System as being true and correct)
    Science progresses NOT because it ‘Judges’ things but because it is always open to change. A true Skeptic is one who is skeptical not only of new Ideas, but also of old ones. A truly Open Minded individual is open to a skeptical viewpoint. And to be blunt….a good Scientist makes NO Judgements. Rather he or she will only make an assumption based on the presented evidence. The Idea of ‘abstaining from judgment as being the highest expression of scientific enlightenment’ is very true indeed! I’m surprised you can not see that…..